Singapore growth slows to 6.0% in fourth quarter: ministry

Singapore’s economy grew at a slower-than-expected 6.0 per cent in the fourth quarter, pulled down by falling manufacturing output, the government said on Wednesday.

Economists had expected growth of 7.0-8.5 per cent for the last three months of the year.

The estimate for real gross domestic product (GDP) growth, compared with the same period a year earlier, meant a moderation from the revised growth figure of 9.0 per cent seen in the third quarter, the Ministry of Trade and Industry said.

“Growth of the Singapore economy moderated in the fourth quarter of 2007,” it said.

On a quarter-on-quarter seasonally adjusted annualised basis, real GDP fell by 3.2 per cent in the quarter compared with a 4.4 per cent gain in the preceding quarter, reflecting a slowdown in the manufacturing sector, the ministry said.

The figure marks the first quarter-on-quarter decline since the first three months of 2005, according to an AFP review of data.

The trade ministry said growth in the manufacturing sector is estimated to have slowed from 10.3 per cent in the third quarter to 0.5 per cent in the last three months of the year.

“This was largely due to a fall in the output of the biomedical manufacturing cluster as some active pharmaceutical ingredients were not produced,” the trade ministry said.

Transport engineering, which includes oil rig manufacturing and ship repair, continued to show double-digit growth, while the construction sector is estimated to have expanded strongly by 24.4 per cent in the fourth quarter, up from the 19.2 per cent third-quarter growth, it said.

Growth in the service sector was steady at 8.3 per cent.

Singapore’s economy grew 7.5 per cent in 2007, marking the fourth straight year of strong growth, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in his New Year message.

The figure for 2007 economic expansion was at the lower end of the government’s upgraded full-year growth target of 7.5-8.0 per cent, and was below the 7.9 per cent recorded for 2006.

Mr Lee forecast growth of 4.5-6.5 per cent for Southeast Asia’s most advanced economy in 2008.

The advance GDP estimates are computed largely from October and November data. More detailed figures for the quarter and for the full 2007 year are to be released in February.

GDP is the value of all goods and services produced in the country. – AFP/ac

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 2 Jan 2008

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