Singapore economy expands 0.7% in 2019, slowest in a decade

 Singapore economy expands 0.7% in 2019, slowest in a decade

SINGAPORE(Reuters) - Singapore's economy expanded at its slowest pace in a decade last year as the manufacturing sector struggled, preliminary data showed on Thursday, even though growth picked up slightly in the fourth quarter.

The export-oriented economy has been hit hard by the drawn-out trade war between the United States and China as well as a cyclical global downturn in the electronics sector.

Gross domestic product (GDP) grew 0.7% in 2019, the slowest annual pace since 2009 and down from 3.1% in 2018. Authorities are forecasting growth of between 0.5% to 2.5% this year.

The services and construction sectors offset weakness in manufacturing, helping the economy grow at a slightly faster pace in the fourth quarter.

GDP grew 0.8% in October-December from the same period a year ago, compared with a revised 0.7% in the previous quarter, the Ministry of Trade and Industry said in a statement.

Analysts had expected GDP growth of 0.8%.

The economy grew 0.1% quarter-on-quarter on an annualised and seasonally adjusted basis, compared with an upwardly revised 2.4% rise the quarter before. Analysts had expected a 0.4% expansion.

"The global economic slowdown has already affected us. This year we avoided a recession. Our economy is still growing, but less vigorously than we would like," Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in his annual New Year message on Dec. 31.

The trade-reliant island nation is widely expected to hold an election within months, likely after its annual budget which is due to be delivered on Feb. 18.

(Reporting by Aradhana Aravindan and John Geddie in Singapore; Editing by Sam Holmes & Kim Coghill)

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Updated Date: Jan 02, 2020 07:07:35 IST