Drugs drag Singapore out of recession

July 14, 2009
Singapore Democrats

This post is at least a year old. Some of the links in this post may no longer work correctly.

Nopporn Wong-Anan

Reuters

Singapore leapt out of its worst recession and upgraded its economic outlook due to rising drugs production and construction, though analysts said it was too early for the central bank to end its accommodative policy.

The government revised up its 2009 forecast for the economy to shrink by 4 to 6 percent from a contraction of up to 9 percent, and analysts said China and other Asian exporters were also likely to report improved second-quarter growth.

But economists were cautious about the sustainability of any recovery, given that second-quarter growth was driven by a notoriously fickle pharmaceuticals industry and the outlook for demand in Western markets remained uncertain.

“This will be the first of a number of GDP reports that will show Asia is recovering after a weak first quarter,” said David Cohen of Action Economics in Singapore, pointing to China’s data this week and South Korea later this month.

“There is still a lot of uncertainty clouding the global outlook. The unemployment rate around the world is still edging higher, and the market is still nervous about how much momentum the recovery has.”

Analysts said the stronger performance might give a short-term boost to the Singapore dollar and the stock market, but said it would not change the central bank’s stance on the currency, its main monetary policy tool.

“On monetary policy, we might not see any change to it because right now it is at the level where (the central bank) can keep exports competitive,” UOB economist Chow Penn Nee said.

Singapore’s central bank, the Monetary Authority of Singapore, manages the currency against a secret basket of trade-weighted currencies and in April shifted the midpoint of this band lower. It next reviews policy in October.

Analysts said the stronger economic performance might give a short term boost to the Singapore dollar and the stock market, but said it would not change the central bank’s stance on the currency, its main monetary policy tool.

“On monetary policy, we might not see any change to it because right now it is at the level where (the central bank) can keep exports competitive,” UOB economist Chow Penn Nee said.

“The Monetary Authority of Singapore has said they are quite happy with monetary policy for now.”

The Singapore dollar traded at 1.4603/17 to the U.S. dollar by 0119 GMT, versus 1.4587 before the data. The stock market rose 1.4 percent, led by banks and property firms.

Last week, Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said neither Singapore nor the world economy had started to recover yet and any recovery would be weak and uncertain.

In the first quarter, the economy shrank at an annualised and seasonally adjusted rate of 12.7 percent and it contracted 9.6 percent from a year earlier.

http://in.reuters.com/article/businessNews/idINIndia-41015420090714