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Economists now more upbeat on Singapore economic growth

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Private-sector economists are now considerably more upbeat about prospects for Singapore's economic growth this year, predicting that it will grow at a faster pace, with external-facing sectors leading the pack.

PRIVATE-SECTOR economists are now considerably more upbeat about prospects for Singapore's economic growth this year, predicting that it will grow at a faster pace, with external-facing sectors leading the pack.

They see the economy growing 2.6 per cent in the first three months of 2017, and 2.3 per cent for the whole year, a March 2017 survey conducted by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) showed on Wednesday.

When polled in December last year, respondents only saw 1.3 per cent growth for the first quarter in 2017, and 1.5 per cent growth for 2017.

These results come as Singapore's economy registered surprisingly stronger growth in the final quarter, and also for the whole of 2016. It grew by 2.9 per cent in the last three months of 2016, and 2 per cent for the whole year.

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For 2018, respondents' median expectation for economic growth is to reach 2.4 per cent.

Wednesday results were based on a questionnaire issued by MAS in mid-February. Some 23 responses were collected for the survey.

"As reflected by the mean probability distribution, the most likely outcome is for the Singapore economy to grow by between 2 and 2.9 per cent this year, above the 1 to 1.9 per cent range reported in the last survey," said the survey report.

A breakdown of the responses showed that the external-facing manufacturing sector will post the strongest growth in 2017. It is expected to grow by 4.5 per cent, higher than the 1.1 per cent forecasted in December.

Non-oil domestic exports are expected to increase by 6.1 per cent, much stronger than the 0.3 per cent earlier forecasted.

In contrast to the external-facing segments, respondents toned down their expectations for the domestic-facing ones.

The construction sector is expected to only expand by 0.3 per cent, compared with 2.4 per cent earlier. Accommodation and food services are expected to grow by 1.3 per cent this year, lower than the 1.7 per cent previously. Private consumption will only increase by 1.1 per cent, from the 1.5 per forecasted in December.

Official estimates for first-quarter 2017 gross domestic product numbers will be issued in early April.

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