Jan 03, 2014

    Weaker Q4 growth 'no cause for concern'

    SINGAPORE'S economic sparkle in the second and third quarters last year was replaced by softer growth in the final three months as manufacturing and construction weakened.

    But economists say there is no cause for concern, as the country remains on track to benefit from the recovery of developed economies like the United States this year.

    Although the economy grew 4.4 per cent in the fourth quarter compared with the same period a year ago, it shrank 2.7 per cent compared with the third quarter, based on yesterday's advance estimates from the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI).

    Both figures were worse than economists' expectations.

    Even though the slowdown in activity was felt across the board in the fourth quarter, economists such as Credit Suisse's Mr Michael Wan noted that it follows "an exceptionally strong second quarter and also an upwardly revised third quarter".

    HSBC economist Leif Eskesen added: "This partly reflects the volatile nature of our fickle friend, the pharmaceutical sector."

    Yesterday's numbers brought full-year expansion to 3.7 per cent, near the upper end of the official forecast of between 3.5 per cent and 4 per cent.

    Economists say the full-year and fourth-quarter growth figures are likely to be revised upwards when MTI releases preliminary 2013 gross domestic product data next month.