Services sector business receipts up 6.4% in Q4

Year-on-year growth is broad-based but slower than a revised 7.9% in Q3

[SINGAPORE] Singapore's services sector raked in 6.4 per cent more in fourth-quarter sales than it did a year ago, but its pace of growth has slowed from a revised 7.9 per cent in Q3.

Receipts were boosted by all industries except recreation & personal services, which contracted by 1.7 per cent. Apart from that segment, growth was broad-based across all activity clusters reflected in the business receipts index (which excludes wholesale & retail trade, and accommodation & food services).

Education services led the way with a 15.4 per cent year-on-year jump in Q4 turnover. The financial & insurance services segment - which carries the biggest weight on the index of almost 25 per cent - followed close behind, and reported double-digit growth of 12.4 per cent. Transport and storage services, the second-largest weighted segment on the index, grew a more modest 2.9 per cent year on year.

The Department of Statistics, which compiles the quarterly index, said yesterday that the other services industries registered growth ranging from 0.2 per cent (information & communications) to 6.2 per cent (real estate, rental & leasing).

Without adjusting for seasonal factors, total business receipts collected in Q4 increased 1.3 per cent compared to Q3.

In quarter-on-quarter terms, the information & communications services industry registered the highest growth of 3.5 per cent in Q4, followed by the health & social services segment which reported an increase of 2.7 per cent. Higher turnover was also seen in other clusters such as transport & storage services (2.1 per cent) and financial & insurance services (2.0 per cent).

The growth in these segments helped to offset contractions in the business receipts of education services and recreation & personal services, which dropped 3.8 per cent and 3.5 per cent respectively.

The Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) announced last week that Singapore's gross domestic product grew 5.5 per cent in Q4 from a year ago. Services producing industries as a whole grew by 5.9 per cent year on year over the quarter, easing from the 6.3 per cent growth seen in Q3.

For the whole of 2013, MTI said the Singapore economy grew 4.1 per cent, roundly beating market forecasts and the government's own estimate.

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