SINGAPORE - Singapore's economic growth is expected to improve gradually over the year, the government said on Thursday after data showed the economy expanded during the first quarter, helped by a surge in financial services.
The Southeast Asian city-state, whose economy is heavily dependent on trade, manufacturing and financial services, said gross domestic product (GDP) expanded 1.8 per cent in January-March on a quarter-on-quarter, seasonally adjusted annualised basis, and by 0.2 per cent from a year earlier.
Economists polled by Reuters had expected GDP shrank 1.1 per cent on the quarter and 0.5 per cent on-year, slightly better than advance estimates of contractions of 1.4 per cent and 0.6 per cent, respectively.
The star performer was finance and insurance, which surged 50.6 per cent quarter-on-quarter at a seasonally adjusted and annualised pace, offsetting a 12.3 per cent quarterly contraction in manufacturing.
"Although Singapore's economic growth eased in the first quarter, it is expected to improve gradually over the course of the year," the Ministry of Trade and Industry said in a statement.
"Externally-oriented sectors are expected to pick up in tandem with the gradual recovery in external demand, while construction and key services sectors such as finance and insurance and business services will continue to provide support to growth," it added.
The ministry reiterated its growth forecast of 1-3 per cent for 2013.