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Singapore non-oil exports picking up

The slump in Singapore's non-oil exports eased in May, suggesting the most important sector of the city-state's economy is stabilizing.

Exports fell 12 percent in May from a year ago to S$10.9 billion (US$7.5 billion) following a 19 percent drop in April, according to Trade and Industry Ministry figures released yesterday. Compared to April, May exports rose a seasonally adjusted 5.6 percent.

"The picture is getting more positive, but we're not seeing a sharp recovery," said Irvin Seah, an economist with DBS Bank in Singapore.

"The Singapore economy took a very harsh battering, and it will take time to heal," he said.

The island's economy has contracted for the past four quarters and the government expects the economy to shrink up to 9 percent this year.

Seah expects the economy to grow 3 percent in the second quarter from the previous quarter while contracting 8 percent from a year earlier.

Non-oil exports, which have fallen for 13 straight months, were equal to about 60 percent of gross domestic product last year.

Electronic products - which account for 36 percent of non-oil exports - fell 21 percent, petrochemicals dropped 37 percent while pharmaceuticals jumped 40 percent, the ministry said.

"We're still seeing pockets of weakness, for example, in electronic sales," Seah said "That's because of global consumer demand, which remains quite sluggish."

Oil exports, which account for 28 percent of total exports, fell 46 percent in May as prices plunged from a year ago.

Non-oil exports to Europe fell 10 percent, dropped 35 percent to the United States and slid 18 percent to China.


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