DO NOT PUBLISH - Exports decline 4.8% in March on weak electronics shipments

SINGAPORE'S non-oil domestic exports continued to shrink in March, dropping 4.8 per cent from a year ago, according to data released by trade agency IE Singapore on Wednesday.

But the contraction last month was an improvement from the 30.6 per cent slump in February, and raised hopes that the beleaguered manufacturing sector might be about to turn the corner.

Indeed, exports rose 8 per cent in March over February, beating economists' expectations.

A rise in shipments of printed matter, drugs and medical apparatus boosted March's numbers, but a long-awaited recovery in the electronics segment failed to materialise.

Electronics exports fell 17.9 per cent in March over a year ago while non-electronics exports rose 2.3 per cent in the same period, IE Singapore said.