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Singapore's services sector expands 1.4% in Q1, offsetting manufacturing's 1% decline

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Singapore's services sector grew 1.4 per cent year on year in the first quarter of 2016, offsetting a one per cent manufacturing contraction.

SINGAPORE'S services sector grew 1.4 per cent year on year in the first quarter of 2016, offsetting a one per cent manufacturing contraction.

Together with the construction sector's 6.2 per cent expansion, this brought Q1 GDP (gross domestic product) growth to 1.8 per cent - exactly in line with the flash estimate released in April this year, and at the same growth rate as Q4 2015.

This translated into 0.2 per cent growth overall on a quarter-on-quarter seasonally adjusted annualised basis.

Both the manufacturing and services figures were revised from the advance figure - the manufacturing contraction was less severe than the 2 per cent originally thought, while services' growth was tempered from an initial expectation of 1.9 per cent growth.

The Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) on Wednesday said that manufacturing growth was hit primarily by the transport engineering and precision engineering clusters. These were weighed down by the weak performance of firms in the marine & offshore segment and firms that produce equipment for the oil & gas industry respectively.

Even so, on a quarter-on-quarter seasonally adjusted annualised basis, the sector grew by 23.3 per cent, reversing strongly the 4.9 per cent contraction in the fourth quarter of last year.

All segments within the services sector posted year-on-year growth in Q1, save transportation & storage (which declined 0.4 per cent).

On a quarter-on-quarter basis, however, services contracted 5.9 per cent - a reversal of the 7.7 per cent growth seen in Q4 2015.

Wholesale & retail trade grew 1.8 per cent year on year. This was a sharp easing from the 6.8 per cent expansion seen in the previous quarter, largely due to the wholesale trade segment.

The accommodation & food services sector grew 1.5 per cent - a better showing than the 0.9 per cent registered in Q4 2015.

The information & communications and finance & insurance sectors expanded 3.2 per cent and 2.4 per cent year on year respectively - both comparable to growth seen in the previous quarter.

Expansion in business services and other services industries moderated to 0.3 per cent and 1.4 per cent respectively.

The construction sector, meanwhile, saw growth pick up to 6.2 per cent from 4.9 per cent in the previous quarter. MTI said growth was supported by public-sector construction works and private industrial building works.

In sequential terms, construction expanded 10.5 per cent - faster than the 6 per cent seen in Q4 2015.

MTI maintained 2016's GDP growth forecast at 1 to 3 per cent.