Singapore's full-year growth slows to 3.2% as fourth quarter misses mark

SINGAPORE'S fourth-quarter economic growth missed estimates in the last stretch of 2018, shaving a fraction off its performance for the full year.

Growth slowed to 3.2 per cent in 2018, from 3.9 per cent the year before, according to the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) on Friday. This was a sliver under the 3.3 per cent gain floated by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

Gross domestic product (GDP) expanded 1.9 per cent year-on-year in the fourth quarter, after expanding by 2.4 per cent the quarter before.

The latest figure was adjusted downwards from an earlier official estimate of 2.2 per cent, and also missed private economists' slightly more conservative forecast of 2.1 per cent.

The ministry maintained its forecast for 2019 at growth of between 1.5 per cent and 3.5 per cent. It expects growth to be "slightly below the mid-point" of that range.

MTI said on Friday that "uncertainties and downside risks in the global economy have increased since three months ago", including a looming Chinese slowdown, trade tensions between the United States and its key trading partners and the possibility of a "no-deal Brexit" in Britain's withdrawal from the European Union.

Given the goings-on in the outside world, the pace of economic growth in the Republic is expected to slow again in 2019, it added.

MTI cited both "a significant moderation in growth" in the manufacturing sector after two years of expansion, as semiconductor demand cools worldwide, as well as the slowdown in outward-facing services sectors.