Singapore non-oil exports post surprise 3.1% drop in October

Month on month and seasonally adjusted, non-oil domestic exports in October fell 5.3 per cent.
Month on month and seasonally adjusted, non-oil domestic exports in October fell 5.3 per cent.PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE - Singapore's non-oil domestic exports (Nodx) shrank unexpectedly in October, snapping four straight months of growth, due to fewer shipments of non-monetary gold and electronics such as integrated circuits.

Nodx fell 3.1 per cent, after expanding a revised 5.8 per cent in September, according to data from Enterprise Singapore (ESG) on Tuesday (Nov 17).

Shipments also missed the 5.1 per cent growth forecast by analysts in a Bloomberg poll. 

Barclays Bank economist Brian Tan said that the fall in Nodx was mainly due to a sharp pullback in non-electronic exports, especially shipments of non-monetary gold.

“As we expected, gold shipments plunged as gold prices cooled,” he said.

He added that the contraction was also caused by a drop in electronic exports, which was in turn partly due to the fading of a favourable low base effect.

Month on month and seasonally adjusted, Nodx in October fell 5.3 per cent, less than the previous month's drop of 11.4 per cent.

Electronics shipments dipped 0.4 per cent, after rising 21.4 per cent the previous month.

Integrated circuits, other computer peripherals and PC parts fell by 12.8 per cent, 6.9 per cent and 1 per cent respectively, contributing the most to the decline in electronic Nodx.

Shipments of non-electronics also had a poorer performance, shrinking 3.9 per cent in October after a 1.7 per cent expansion the previous month.

Exports of non-monetary gold plunged 61 per cent, while petrochemicals and miscellaneous manufactured articles fell 15.3 per cent and 37.3 per cent respectively, contributing the most to the decline in non-electronic Nodx.

Shipments reached $13.1 billion in October, lower than the previous month's $13.8 billion, on a seasonally adjusted basis.

Nodx to Singapore’s top markets as a whole declined last month, though exports to the United States, China, Japan and the European Union’s 27 member states grew. 

The largest contributors to the Nodx decline were Hong Kong (-21 per cent), Malaysia (-7.8 per cent) and Thailand (-12.2 per cent). 

Non-oil re-exports rose by 2.5 per cent year on year in October, after a 5.1 per cent growth the previous month, as growth in electronic re-exports outweighed the decline in non-electronics. 

Total trade in October fell 9 per cent year on year, or 3.1 per cent from the previous month on a seasonally adjusted basis, due to a continued slump in the oil trade.

The level of total trade reached $77.2 billion in October, lower than the previous month’s $79.9 billion.

Total exports fell 1.6 per cent from the previous month, after September’s decline of 3.9 per cent. Total imports fell 5.2 per cent, after a 4.8 per cent rise in September. 

OCBC Bank head of treasury research and strategy Selena Ling said with the disappointing October Nodx results, the bank now expects a weaker year-on-year Nodx performance of negative 0.4 per cent in the fourth quarter. This could weigh on full-year Nodx growth and moderate it to between 4 to 5 per cent. 

“Still, we expect that next Monday’s (release of) third-quarter GDP growth will be revised up from the flash estimate of minus 7 per cent year-on-year to minus 5.4 per cent due to better-than-expected September manufacturing data cues,” she said.