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Singapore Exports Fall Most In Over Two Years

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Singapore's exports declined the most in over two years in December, signaling that the preliminary growth estimate for the fourth quarter of 2018 will be revised down.

Non-oil domestic exports, or NODX, dropped 8.5 percent year-on-year following a revised 2.8 percent slump in November, figures from Enterprise Singapore showed on Thursday.

The fall was in contrast to economists expectations for a growth of 2 percent. The latest decline was the worst since a slump in October 2016.

Both electronic and non-electronic NODX fell in December, the Enterprise Singapore said.

The agency attributed the latest fall in the NODX mainly to lower demand from the EU, -28.7 percent, South Korea, -39.1 percent, and Malaysia, -15.5 percent. Exports to the majority of the top markets declined in December, except the US, +31.1 percent, and China, +15.4 percent.

Compared to the previous month, NODX decreased a seasonally adjusted 5.7 percent in December after a 4.3 percent sump in November.

Electronic exports decreased 11.3 percent year-on-year following a 4.3 percent growth in November. There were massive double-digit declines in the shipments of personal computers, disk media products and diodes & transistors.

Non-electronic products exports decreased 7.4 percent year-on-year after a 5.4 percent drop in November. The fall was led by significant declines in the shipments of specialized machinery, pharmaceuticals, and primary chemicals.

Total trade grew 1.6 percent year-on-year in December after a 7.4 percent rise in November. Imports climbed 6.1 percent, while exports declined 2.5 percent.

"Today's data almost certainly will result in a downward revision to the 1.6%QoQ 4QGDP release and will either confirm 2018 at our lower estimate, or perhaps even take it a notch lower still," ING economist Robert Carnell said.

The economist said the industrial production data due next week should give a pointer.

Weaker data lends weight to the view that the Monetary Authority of Singapore will not conduct any more tightening of monetary conditions through the nominal effective exchange rate index this year, Carnell added.

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