SINGAPORE: Singapore's exports unexpectedly rose in September as sales of electronics products expanded, but reduced shipments to major markets such as the United States and China indicated sluggish global demand was limiting growth.
Non-oil domestic exports (NODX) edged up 0.3% in September from a year earlier, trade agency International Enterprise Singapore said in a statement on Friday. That compares with a 3.8% contraction forecast in a Reuters poll.
In August, non-oil domestic exports slumped 8.4% on year reflecting a steep decline in sales to China and Europe.
Singapore's non-oil exports tend to be volatile because a significant portion comprises pharmaceuticals and oil rigs that can vary sharply from month to month. Exports on the month advanced 2.8% in September on a seasonally adjusted basis, compared with a 0.8% rise predicted in the survey and a 4.6% fall in August.
Domestic exports of electronics grew 5.7% in September from a year earlier after falling 2.7% in the previous month. Overseas sales of telecommunications equipment jumped 76.8% in September.
"It's encouraging that we are seeing some pickup in electronics exports," said Selena Ling, an economist at Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp. "Now NODX is coming in a little higher than the market expected, so maybe this is a turnaround story, but we'll wait and see."
Singapore's electronics sector has been underperforming neighbours such as South Korea and Taiwan due to intense competition and Singapore's lack of popular high-tech products such as smartphones.
Despite September's rebound in overall exports, analysts doubted if the city-state could maintain such momentum, given the sluggish global economy.
Non-oil domestic exports to China - Singapore's largest export market - slumped 12.9% in September from a year earlier, more than a 8.2% slide in August.
Sales to the United States fell 9.3% in September after growing 8.8% in August. Shipments to Europe eased 2.1% after a 9% contraction.
Singapore's central bank eased monetary policy for the second time this year on Wednesday and warned of risks to growth after its economy narrowly avoided a recession in the third quarter. - Reuters