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Singapore's NODX fall 3.3% on-year in January

Singapore's non-oil domestic exports fell more than expected in January. According to trade agency IE Singapore, exports declined by 3.3 per cent on-year last month, due to a slump in electronic exports.

SINGAPORE: Singapore's non-oil domestic exports (NODX) fell more sharply than expected in January, dropping by 3.3 per cent compared to the same period a year ago.

The slump was largely due to a 17-per cent fall in electronics exports, which offsets the 3.5-per cent increase for non-electronics, according to trade agency IE Singapore.

Within non-electronics exports, growth was driven by petrochemicals (+26.3 per cent), printed matter (+44.5 per cent) and the structures of ships and boats (+1,944.1 per cent).

Exports of pharmaceuticals were down 9.4 per cent.

On a month-on-month basis, exports were down 5 per cent, compared to the previous month's 6.3 per cent expansion.

Shipments to China and the US grew at a much slower pace than in December.

Shipments to China rose 15.3 per cent on year in January, as compared to a 45-per cent increase in December. Exports to the US rose by 5.3 per cent compared to 27.9 per cent in December.

Rajiv Biswas, Asia-Pacific chief economist at IHS, said: "The fundamental driver for the weakness in Singapore's exports was the very large decline we saw in electronics-related exports. And this is a structural factor that we've been seeing consistently over the last year - in the last three months, the declines in electronics sector exports have been in double digits month after month."

Despite the poor start, analysts said exports for the full-year will outdo last year's 6 per cent contraction.

ANZ is expecting exports to rise 4.2 per cent year-on-year in 2014. 

Some economists also see a silver lining.

They note that electronic shipments have been improving on a sequential basis.

When calculated as a three-month moving average, Credit Suisse estimates that electronics exports contracted 2 percent in January, improving from a 12 percent drop in December.

This gives hope that Singapore's exports for the full-year will fare better than the 6 percent contraction in 2013.

The improving picture in the US and European economies is also expected to provide a boost.

For the whole year, economists are expecting export growth to come in at around 4 percent.

Edward Lee, Standard Chartered Bank's regional head of research - Southeast Asia, said: "The growth profile this year for Singapore should be a bit different. In the last couple of years, it has been more domestically driven. We think this year will be more externally driven. Last year's contribution to growth was flat - for the net exports. This year, we do expect it to be closer to 3 percentage points."

Across the region, export performance in January was mixed.

China's exports defied expectations to rise by 10.6 per cent on-year while exports out of Taiwan and South Korea fell as the Lunar New Year holidays resulted in fewer working days during the month.

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