Singapore's economy grew 7.7% in fourth quarter

SINGAPORE: Singapore's economy expanded at a faster-than-expected 7.7 percent in the fourth quarter from a year ago, benefitting from a rebound in global trade and the city-state's foray into new areas such as biotechnology. 

The preliminary figure for October-December quarter brings growth for the full year to 5.7 percent, better than a government forecast of around 5 percent. 

At an annual, seasonally-adjusted pace, Singapore's gross domestic product grew 9.7 percent in the final quarter, faster than the revised 8.6 percent expansion in the third quarter, the Ministry of Trade and Industry said Tuesday. 

In recent years, Singapore has promoted the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries and has taken steps to revitalize its tourism sector and develop the wealth management business. 

That, plus the strong performance of its oil rig builders, has helped the economy overcome high oil prices and a slowdown in the first quarter to do better than regional rivals such as South Korea and Taiwan, whose fortunes are more tied to global electronics demand. 

"Singapore's economy is more leveraged to global growth than others,'' said Citigroup economist Sim Moh Siong.  

"If the global economy is recovering, (Singapore) will benefit more than others.'' 

The diversification of the economic base to include pharmaceuticals, the renewed emphasis on tourism, and the recovery in property prices have also helped the trade-dependent economy become more resilient against volatility in the global economy, he said. - AP

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