Singapore economy expands 1.8 percent in first quarter; outlook grim

Singapore's GDP forecast to expand 1.0 to 3.0 percent in 2016.

Singapore's economy expanded 1.8 percent on a year-on-year basis in the first quarter of 2016, unchanged from an advance estimate.

The Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) said on Wednesday that on a quarter-on-quarter seasonally-adjusted annualised basis, the economy expanded 0.2 per cent, slower than the 6.2 percent growth in the in the preceding quarter.

According to the MTI, finance and insurance industries, as well as wholesale trade and construction sectors boosted growth. However, the transport engineering and precision engineering clusters contracted.

"The global economic outlook has weakened since early 2016, with global growth for the year now expected to be broadly similar to that in 2015. In particular, the growth outlook for the advanced economies has deteriorated marginally," the ministry said.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) released a quarterly survey in March which showed that private sector economists expected Singapore economy to grow 1.6 percent in the January to March quarter.

MTI added that it has maintained Singapore's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth forecast for 2016 at 1.0 to 3.0 per cent.

"The picture hasn't changed very much with revision of the Q1 numbers," Selena Ling, an economist at OCBC Bank in Singapore, told Reuters.

"If you look at services, it decelerated even faster than what was estimated in the flash. That for us is an area of concern. The revision of NODX downward is just a reflection of the China drag and regional demand not being there," Ling added.