Markets Insights

Singapore Budget, GDP results for Q4 to take centre stage

Tourists wearing face masks at Merlion Park. The financial impact on economies and companies from the coronavirus outbreak is expected to be worse than the 2003 severe acute respiratory syndrome epidemic. This is due in part to China's role in the gl
Tourists wearing face masks at Merlion Park. The financial impact on economies and companies from the coronavirus outbreak is expected to be worse than the 2003 severe acute respiratory syndrome epidemic. This is due in part to China's role in the global economy expanding greatly since then, as well as the aggressive response by the authorities to contain the outbreak.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

Spotlight will be on relief measures to help sectors worst hit by coronavirus outbreak

Traders will be looking to tomorrow's Budget statement for support measures to aid sectors most affected by the virus outbreak and strengthen investor confidence.

Local equities have been sold off since late last month and while there have been recoveries in between, they were short-lived.

The Straits Times Index closed flat at 3,220.03 last Friday and, while up for the week, remains down on the year.

The financial impact on economies and companies from the virus is expected to be worse than the 2003 severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) epidemic.

This is due in part to China's role in the global economy expanding greatly since then, as well as the aggressive response by the authorities to contain the outbreak.

Singapore's economic estimates for the first quarter have already been lowered by private sector economists. DBS revised its 2020 growth forecast from 1.4 per cent to 0.9 per cent, while ING's went from 1.6 per cent to 1 per cent.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said last Friday the impact on the Singapore economy has already exceeded that of Sars.

He did not rule out the possibility of a recession, although economists remain hopeful of a recovery after the first quarter.

Singapore releases its final numbers for fourth-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) today.

A Bloomberg median estimate is for an unchanged reading of 0.1 per cent quarter-on-quarter growth. Year-on-year growth stands at 0.8 per cent from the advance estimate.

"Of greater interest will be the amount of downgrade to the full-year 2020 growth due to the virus outbreak," said United Overseas Bank economist Alvin Liew.

January's non-oil domestic exports (Nodx) reading will be released in conjunction with the fourth-quarter GDP. Bloomberg's forecast points to a 2.3 per cent month-on-month fall in Nodx and a 2.1 per cent year-on-year dip.

"That said, the January number will not have accounted for the Covid-19-related disruption to supply chains," noted Mr Liew.

IMPACT ON GROWTH

Of greater interest will be the amount of downgrade to the full-year 2020 growth due to the virus outbreak. 

UOB ECONOMIST ALVIN LIEW

While attention in the early half of the week will be on the Budget, it could later swing back to the corporate earnings season, with a host of large caps reporting. Agribusiness player Wilmar International will release earnings on Thursday, while banking stalwarts OCBC and UOB will do so on Friday.

Conglomerate Sembcorp Industries will post results on Friday, one day after Sembcorp Marine. Sasseur Reit announces its fourth-quarter results on Thursday.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 17, 2020, with the headline 'Singapore Budget, GDP results for Q4 to take centre stage'. Print Edition | Subscribe