Singapore exports rise unexpectedly in February as China decline moderates

The decline in exports to China was much less than the 25.2 percent fall in January.

Singapore's exports improved in February, helped by a rise in shipments to the US and a moderation in the decline in exports to China.

The rise in exports was unexpected as a median forecast in a Reuters survey showed a 2.6 percent contraction.

Non-oil domestic exports (NODX) rose 2.1 percent in February, compared with a 10.1 percent overall decline in January.

Shipments from the pharmaceuticals sector surged last month, helping overall export numbers, data released Thursday by International Enterprise Singapore showed on Thursday.

Pharmaceuticals shipment recorded a 40 percent rise in February from a year earlier while domestic exports of electronics rose 0.7 percent.

The country's trade agency also said exports to China fell 1.2 percent in February from a year earlier.

The decline was much less than the 25.2 percent fall in January, indicating that the impact of a Chinese slowdown on the trade-reliant Singapore economy was moderating.

However, Standard Chartered Bank economist Jeff Ng said despite the surprise increase, the numbers were not impressive as the export base remained low compared with a year earlier.

"The result looks weak, given that the 3-month moving average continued to fall 5.6 percent year-on-year," Ng said, according to Reuters.