Singapore economy slips into recession | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, October 11, 2008 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, October 11, 2008

Singapore economy slips into recession

Singapore's trade-sensitive economy has declined for a second straight quarter, the government said yesterday, meaning the city-state has entered a recession for the first time in six years.
The Ministry of Trade and Industry also revised downwards Singapore's full-year growth forecast to around three percent, citing a slowdown in the global economy and key domestic sectors.
In a move to confront the downturn, the Monetary Authority of Singapore -- its de facto central bank -- said it was easing monetary policy for the first time in more than four years.
Singapore is Southeast Asia's wealthiest economy in terms of gross domestic product (GDP) per capita but is heavily dependent on trade.
This makes it sensitive to hiccups in developed economies, particularly key export markets the United States and Europe.
The data mean that Singapore is the first Asian economy to fall into a technical recession, DBS Group Research said.
The impact of a worsening US financial crisis and deepening credit crunch have weakened US consumer sentiment, which will affect demand from Asia and the rest of the world, Singapore's trade ministry said.
On a seasonally adjusted quarter-on-quarter annualised basis, real GDP declined by 6.3 percent in the third quarter after contracting 5.7 percent in the previous quarter, the ministry said.
While it did not describe the economy as being in recession, a technical recession is generally defined as two consecutive quarters of contraction in economic output.
Economists polled by Dow Jones Newswires had forecast a 0.3 percent quarter-on-quarter rise in GDP, the value of goods and services produced in the economy.
Compared with the third quarter of last year, the ministry said Singapore's economy contracted by 0.5 percent in real terms, against 0.8 percent expansion foreseen in the Dow Jones poll.
In August the government had revised down its full-year GDP forecast to 4.0-5.0 percent but since then, external economic conditions have deteriorated more than expected and some sectors of the economy have weakened significantly because of industry-specific or domestic factors, the ministry said.
"Singapore's export-oriented sectors, such as manufacturing, will be affected," it added.
Analysts said the key drag on third-quarter growth was manufacturing, and the surprise was a sharp decline in growth of what has been a booming construction sector.
Trade ministry data estimated that manufacturing contracted by 11.5 percent year-on-year in the third quarter, more than the 4.9 percent drop in the previous quarter.
Construction growth slowed to 7.8 percent from 19.8 percent, and service industries grew by 6.1 percent, marginally down from 7.0 percent in the second quarter, the data showed.
"Services deceleration should get more severe from here on," the US bank Morgan Stanley said in a report.
Last year the economy expanded 7.7 percent but after years of growth, signs of a slowdown emerged with recent disappointing trade data and contractions in the manufacturing sector, which includes the export-dependent electronic and pharmaceutical industries.
Morgan Stanley said things will likely only get worse for Singapore.
With external conditions deteriorating and the lack of domestic demand support, Morgan Stanley forecast virtually zero growth of 0.2 percent year-on-year for 2009.
It said Singapore's recession will likely be more than just a technical one.
In a speech Friday, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that although growth is slowing, the financial system is sound and the economy remains competitive.
Singapore's last technical recession occurred in 2002 while the most recent full-scale recession was in 2001, when the economy contracted 2.4 percent during the year.
The government's preliminary third-quarter GDP estimates are based largely on data from July and August, and are subject to revision.

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