Singapore's economy grows 1.1 per cent in fourth quarter

The Singapore economy grew by a better than expected rate in the final three months of the year, beating off worries that it was heading into a recession.

The economy expanded 1.8 per cent in the fourth quarter, compared with the previous three months, much better than the 6.3 per cent decline seen in the previous quarter.

Many analysts had expected a decline in the fourth quarter, which would mean a technical recession here.

But it was not to be. In fact, compared with the previous year, the fourth quarter also showed a positive expansion of 1.1 per cent, rounding the year's growth at 1.2 per cent.

This was still below the Government's initial forecast of "about 1.5 per cent".

The big winner this year was the construction sector. It grew 8.8 per cent compared with last year, driven by a strong pipeline of public infrastructure projects from highways to train lines.

Services also managed to grow but by a feeble 1.2 per cent, as the financial services suffered from bouts of volatility and uncertainty in global market conditions.

But it was manufacturing which bore the brunt of the weak global economy, declining 0.2 per cent overall, dragged down by a poor electronics manufacturing showing.

Next year, the economy is also expected to grow at a weak pace, of between 1 per cent and 3 per cent, a rate that many analysts say could be the norm for years to come.