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Singapore's November non-oil exports fall 2.6% after October spurt

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Singapore's non-oil domestic exports (NODX) fell 2.6 per cent in November from a high base a year ago, and after an 8.2 per cent spurt in October, according to the latest trade figures released by trade promotion agency Enterprise Singapore.

SINGAPORE'S non-oil domestic exports (NODX) fell 2.6 per cent in November from a high base a year ago, and after an 8.2 per cent spurt in October, according to the latest trade figures released by trade promotion agency Enterprise Singapore.

The drop in last month's NODX surprised private-sector economists who were still looking at an average 1.8 per cent year-on-year increase in domestic exports. "This is worse than our expectation for zero per cent," says Selena Ling, Treasury Research and Strategy head at OCBC Bank.

Domestic shipments of non-electronic products, which jumped 12.7 per cent in the previous month, slipped 5.2 per cent last month, dragged down largely by a fall in domestic exports of non-monetary gold (-77.9 per cent), specialised machinery (-12.8 per cent) and petrochemicals (-7.8 per cent).

The drop in domestic shipments of non-electronic products more than outweighed the rise in domestic export of electronic products, which expanded 4.5 per cent in November following a 3.6 per cent decline in October. It's the first electronic NODX's year-on-year monthly upturn since November 2017.

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Increased domestic shipments of integrated circuits (+27.9 per cent), consumer electronics (+11.5 per cent) and telecommunications equipment (+3.4 per cent) were the biggest contributors to the growth in domestic exports of electronic products.

Month on month, the NODX tumbled by a seasonally adjusted 4.2 per cent last month, against a 4.2 per cent growth in October, due to a decline in non-electronic NODX which outweighed a rise in domestic electronic shipments.

Except for the US, Thailand, Japan and Taiwan, domestic exports to the top 10 markets fell year on year in November, with decreased domestic shipments to China (-16.0 per cent), South Korea (-25.7 per cent) and Indonesia (-20.3 per cent), making them the biggest contributors to the fall.

"Exports to China contracted for the seventh consecutive month and even though the decline in November was a small 16 per cent (against a decline of 25.8 per cent in October), its (negative) contribution to the change in NODX levels was still the biggest among the top 10 export destinations," says Alvin Liew, senior economist at UOB Bank.

Domestic shipments to the US grew 33.1 per cent last month, extending the 32.8 per cent jump in October.

Says Ms Ling: "The relative outperformance of the US vis-a-vis China continues to underpin the US-China trade war story and China's growth moderation, notwithstanding the 90-day hiatus for fresh US-China trade tariffs for negotiations which came only at end-November."