Singapore September exports creep up as Europe, US disappoint

Shipping containers stacked along the docking bay at a port in Singapore.
Roslan Rahman | AFP | Getty Images

Singapore's exports in September rose less than expected as sales to Europe contracted and shipments to the United States slowed, adding to concerns that a sluggish global economy may bite into the city-state's exports.

Non-oil domestic exports (NODX) grew 0.9 percent in September from a year earlier, trade agency International Enterprise Singapore said in a statement on Friday. That compared with a 2.6 percent growth forecast in a Reuters poll, and a 6.0 percent increase in August.

On a month-on-month seasonally adjusted basis, NODX dropped 8.8 percent, much weaker than the 4.0 percent decline forecast in the poll.

Exports to the European Union declined 3.6 percent in September, compared with a 7.0 percent rise the previous month.

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"That's going to continue because we know that the situation over in Europe, in terms of economic growth, has no upside at all in sight," said Francis Tan, an economist for United Overseas Bank, referring to exports to European Union.

Growth in NODX to the United States slowed with a 1.1 percent rise in September from a year earlier, compared to 5.1 percent growth in August.

The U.S. economy showed some signs of losing momentum with a decline in retail sales and producer prices down. That came amid fears of a possible recession in Europe and a slowdown in China.

Electronics exports in September decreased 4.0 percent from a year earlier after easing 6.9 percent in the previous month.

After Q3 GDP missed estimates, where's Singapore headed?
After Q3 GDP missed estimates, where's Singapore headed?

The sector is a key driver of Singapore's exports, but it has been lagging regional competitors such as South Korea and Taiwan because of stiff competition and a lack of popular high-tech products including smartphones.

NODX of pharmaceuticals rose 8.1 percent from a year ago, while petrochemicals shipments gained 16.5 percent.

Read MoreSingapore Q3 GDP misses forecasts

The city-state's economy grew 1.2 percent in the third quarter from the previous three months on an annualized and seasonally adjusted basis, below a market forecast of 1.8 percent.

The central bank stuck to its tighter monetary policy as expected on Tuesday, while it lowered its forecasts for headline and core inflation this year.