Singapore Exports Unexpectedly Rose on Boost from Pharmaceutical Shipments

Singapore’s exports unexpectedly rose in December as pharmaceutical shipments surged, countering a drop in sales of electronics goods.

Non-oil domestic exports climbed 9 percent from a year earlier, after a revised 1.4 percent increase in November, the island’s trade promotion agency said in a statement today. The median of 14 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey was for a 1.2 percent decline.

The advance in overseas sales may be short-lived as Europe’s sovereign-debt crisis curbs demand for Asian goods, with purchasing managers’ indexes in export-dependent economies including Singapore and Taiwan signaling manufacturing is still contracting. Non-oil exports from Singapore may increase 3 percent to 5 percent this year, the trade promotion board said in November.

“The export sector is facing tremendous headwinds as the malaise in Europe and the slow recovery in the U.S. are taking a toll on global demand,” Irvin Seah, an economist at DBS Group Holdings Ltd. in Singapore, said before the report. “Asia is also feeling the chill, with China and key markets expected to report slower growth. The odds are stacking up against Singapore’s export performance.”

China is due to report gross domestic product numbers today. Asia’s largest economy probably grew the least in 10 quarters in the last three months of 2011, according to a Bloomberg News survey ahead of the release.

Electronics Decline

Singapore’s electronics shipments by companies such as contract manufacturer Venture Corp. fell 4.6 percent in December from a year earlier, after rising 0.1 percent the previous month.

Non-electronics shipments, which include petrochemicals and pharmaceuticals, increased 16.7 percent. Petrochemicals exports fell 22.4 percent, while pharmaceutical shipments climbed 38.6 percent after gaining 21.5 percent in November.

The performance of Singapore’s pharmaceutical industry is volatile as production swings by companies such as GlaxoSmithKline Plc can cause industrial output to fluctuate from month to month. Drug companies sometimes shut plants for cleaning before making different products.

Singapore’s non-oil exports gained a seasonally adjusted 16.4 percent last month from November, when they climbed a revised 5.8 percent, today’s report showed.

To contact the reporter on this story: Shamim Adam in Singapore at sadam2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephanie Phang at sphang@bloomberg.net

Bloomberg reserves the right to remove comments but is under no obligation to do so, or to explain individual moderation decisions.

Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus.