04/17/2015, 00.00
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Singapore’s exports jump by more 18 per cent in March

Last month, the city-state saw its exports increase despite expectations that it would fall due to lower Chinese demand. The drop in oil prices is the main reason. An analyst is unsure whether it will last.

Singapore (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Singapore’s exports unexpectedly jumped by the most in more than three years. Non-oil domestic exports climbed 18.5 percent in March from a year earlier, data released Friday showed.

The increase exceeded all forecasts in a Bloomberg survey, where the median estimate was for a 1.1 percent decline.

The export gain was led by a rebound in electronics and pharmaceuticals shipments. Sales to Europe jumped 56 per cent from a year earlier, while those to the U.S. climbed 19 per cent.

The Singapore dollar gained 0.06 per cent in the ten minutes following the release of the data.

The trade pickup reinforces an economic expansion during the last quarter that surpassed analyst forecasts, allowing the central bank to refrain from adding monetary policy support this week.

Singapore may be benefiting from an improvement in consumer spending in Europe and the United States because of lower oil prices.

“Maybe we can start to be quite optimistic that not all of the decline in oil prices is lost on G3 consumers,” said Vishnu Varathan, a Singapore-based economist at Mizuho, referring to the United States, Europe and Japan.

“We need to watch this pick up to ensure two things; one is firstly that it endures. Secondly, that it’s broad-based enough that Asian exporters all generally pick up.”

"We have to analyse this shoot - more - ensuring two things. First, if it will last. Secondly, it has a base large enough to allow all Asian exporters to improve."

“I wouldn’t extrapolate this positive result as a new trend,” said Daniel Wilson, a Singapore-based economist at ANZ. “The boost that you get from pharmaceuticals comes from time to time, and as quickly as it comes, as quickly it can go.”

It must be said that Singapore’s March record exports is the exception. In Asia, exports experienced a decline in the past few months.

The most striking case is that of China. Compared to a year ago, its exports in March fell 14, 6 per cent. The same is true, albeit to a lesser degree, for Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines and India.

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