Singapore revises growth for fourth quarter upwards

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Singapore's economy grew at a much faster pace than earlier thought in the final quarter of 2013, revised figures showed on Thursday.

Gross domestic product (GDP) for the quarter grew 5.5 percent from the year ago period, better than the 4.4 percent advanced estimate released in January and beating a Reuters forecast for a 5.3 percent expansion.

Quarter on quarter, the economy grew an annualized 6.1 percent, compared with the advanced estimate of a 2.7 percent contraction, and against a Reuters poll expecting a 0.8 percent rise.

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Growth for 2013 was revised up to 4.1 percent versus an earlier estimate of 3.7 percent. For 2014, the government is keeping its growth forecast at between 2 percent and 4 percent.

The Singapore dollar strengthened a touch, trading at $1.2634 against the U.S. dollar, compared with $1.2639 before the data.

Analysts attribute the upward revision to better-than-anticipated growth seen across industries, especially manufacturing.

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"As expected, manufacturing was the source of the swing, to 10.4 percent from -4 percent but there were big revisions to construction (to 1.4 percent from -6.9 percent ) and services (to 6.1 percent from -1.7 percent ) too," Tim Condon of ING wrote in a note.

According to Vishnu Varathan from Mizuho, the quarter-on-quarter (QoQ) figures, which showed the most dramatic improvement, are typically erratic, but that doesn't discount the growth story.

"Admittedly, QoQ GDP data are highly volatile due to highly unpredictable but volatile factors such as pharmaceutical production, and so should be taken with a pinch of salt. But that does not distract from the bigger picture of improving growth conditions," Varathan said.

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ING's Condon said the improving outlook for Singapore's economy could shift focus to rising costs.

"Bottomline: we think the balance of risks is tilted toward inflation and we forecast the Monetary Authority of Singapore retaining its 'modest and gradual' stance this year," he said.

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