Exports continue fall but beat expectations, Latest Business News - The New Paper

Exports continue fall but beat expectations

This article is more than 12 months old

Nodx down 5.9% and beats forecast of 6.4 per cent fall

Exporters had another grim run last month - the ninth consecutive month of decline - but the slide was less than expected thanks to a small rally in the non-electronics sector.

Overall shipments of non-oil domestic exports (Nodx) were down 5.9 per cent last month, following a revised 12.5 per cent plunge in October, Enterprise Singapore data showed yesterday.

This was the best showing since February and beat a forecast of a 6.4 per cent year-on-year fall in a Bloomberg poll of analysts.

Non-electronics exports returned to growth for the first time since February, with a 1.3 per cent improvement owing to stronger shipments of non-monetary gold, specialised machinery and non-electric engines and motors.

But electronic product exports plunged 23.3 per cent - or $1 billion - from a year ago, worse than the 16.4 per cent drop seen in October.

Integrated circuits, personal computers and disk drives contributed most to the decline.

United Overseas Bank economist Barnabas Gan said though the plunge in electronics exports may seem alarming, it comes off a high base a year earlier.

Also, in value terms, these exports recorded the highest level in 10 months at $3.4 billion.

"So, it seems like demand for Singapore products has improved, which is comforting," he noted.

Maybank Kim Eng analysts Chua Hak Bin and Lee Ju Ye said the year-on-year decline in electronics exports was exaggerated by "front-loading" of orders late last year after US President Donald Trump threatened further tariff hikes.

Exporters shipped larger quantities of goods as companies brought forward orders.


"We think the electronics downturn is past its worst and a recovery, albeit sluggish, is under way," they said.

"A partial US-China trade deal will help revive capital expenditure and exports, and electronics exports will likely emerge out of contraction by early 2020."

On a month-on-month seasonally adjusted basis, exports improved 5.8 per cent last month, after weakening 3.1 per cent in October.

This was thanks to more shipments of both electronic and non-electronic products.

Exports to most of Singapore's top markets dropped last month on a year-on-year basis, except to the US, Thailand and Indonesia. The biggest contributors to the fall were Hong Kong, the European Union and China.