May 17, 2017 / 1:37 AM / 2 months ago

CORRECTED-UPDATE 1-Singapore non-oil exports fall in April after 5 months of growth

3 Min Read

(Corrects headline)

SINGAPORE, May 17 (Reuters) - Singapore's April non-oil domestic exports unexpectedly fell after five consecutive months of growth, due to a downward swing in pharmaceutical exports.

Singapore's exports fell 0.7 percent from a year earlier, data from trade agency International Enterprise Singapore (IE Singapore) showed on Wednesday.

Non-oil domestic exports also fell month-on-month, dropping by a seasonally adjusted 9.0 percent in April from March.

A Reuters poll had forecast April exports would expand 12.4 percent from a year earlier and shrink 4.1 percent from March.

Pharmaceutical exports fell sharply at 39.9 percent on a year-on-year basis, after growing 17.7 percent in March. But analysts say that the decline is a "one-off" that would moderate in the months to come as the sector is volatile.

"The pharmaceutical sector is liable to a two-way swing," said Mizuho senior economist, Vishnu Varathan.

Electronics to Moderate

Singapore's electronic exports in April grew 4.8 percent from a year ago, slowing from 5.2 percent annual growth in March.

The city-state's electronics sector has been key in driving the stellar growth in exports over the last few months, helping the trade-dependent economy avert a recession.

Singapore has been among a number of export-reliant Asian economies to benefit from a general uptick in global demand in recent months, enjoying strong sales of tech products.

Doubts Over Exports to China

Singapore's exports to China showed annual growth of 10.9 percent in April, significantly slower that the 45.5 percent posted in March. Analysts expected that trend to hurt Singapore's export performance in the second quarter.

"Given that most of the pickup in Q1 is due to a bounce of China demand, the deceleration of data from China points to a weaker Q2 NODX performance versus Q1,” said Trinh Nguyen, senior economist for Natixis in Hong Kong adding that she doesn’t expect the MAS to tighten policy soon.

Singapore's economy has struggled over the past two years. In the first quarter of this year, it shrank 1.9 percent from the previous three months and grew 2.5 percent from a year earlier.

The country's central bank has held its policy steady and warned of risks to the global outlook, even with recent improvements in exports and broad economic growth momentum. (Reporting by Fathin Ungku; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

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