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Singapore's NODX expand 0.9% on-year in April

Singapore's non-oil domestic exports (NODX) rose 0.9 per cent in April from a year ago. The increase in NODX was buoyed by stronger petrochemical shipments which offset continued weakness in electronics.

SINGAPORE: Singapore's non-oil domestic exports (NODX) rose 0.9 per cent in April from a year ago.

The increase in NODX was buoyed by stronger petrochemical shipments which offset continued weakness in electronics.

The rise surprised some analysts, who had expected a fall of some 3.4 per cent.

Singapore's electronics exports continued to shrink.

Data from International Enterprise Singapore showed that such exports contracted 8.7 per cent year-on-year in April.

A month earlier, the decline was 16.1 per cent.

Exports of personal computers and disk drives remained in the doldrums.

But that may not reflect the real picture.

Edward Lee, regional head of research (Southeast Asia) at Standard Chartered Bank, said: "We're capturing the manufacturing output from here, but we are exporting those goods from somewhere else.

“So it comes into Singapore as a re-export, and then gets re-exported, but not as a domestic export. So, possibly that's the divergence."

Thus, it could be a case where electronics firms in Singapore are getting healthy orders, just that the goods they produce are not made domestically, but overseas.

Domestic exports of non-electronics increased, helped by gains in petrochemicals, which rose 21.4 per cent year-on-year in April 2014.

Specialised machinery posted gains of 26.6 per cent, with printed matter exports up 39 per cent.

Some observers believe services exports need to be paid more attention in making sense of Singapore's push to be a regional trade hub.

Saktiandi Supaat, FX Research head, Global Markets, at Maybank, said: "If you look at financial services, business services and also other ancillary services are significant in enhancing the hub status of Singapore.

“So, we need to look at the services export component of the Singapore economy, going forward, to actually really see the significance of the outlook, for trajectory for the Singapore economy."

However, expectations for a much stronger domestic export pickup in the near-term are muted, given the perceived weakness in electronics and potential disappointments in leveraging China's growth.  

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