SINGAPORE, March 14 — Economists have raised their forecasts for Singapore's economic growth in 2018, as they upgraded their views on private consumption as well as wholesale and retail trade, a central bank survey showed today.
Singapore's gross domestic product is expected to grow 3.2 per cent this year, according to the median forecast of 24 economists surveyed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), up from the 3.0 per cent median forecast in the previous MAS survey published in December.
That would be close to the upper end of the government's forecast range. The Ministry of Trade and Industry has said that its central view is for GDP growth in 2018 to come in slightly above the middle of its forecast range of 1.5 to 3.5 per cent.
The MAS survey showed that economists lowered their view on manufacturing to 4.3 per cent growth in 2018, down from the previous median forecast of 5.5 per cent. They also trimmed their view on non-oil domestic exports to 5.5 per cent growth from 5.8 per cent previously.
Economists, however, raised their 2018 forecasts for some other categories. The median forecast for private consumption was increased to 3.1 per cent growth from 2.2 per cent. Wholesale and retail trade was seen rising 3.0 per cent, up from the previous median forecast of 2.2 per cent.
The central bank's latest survey also showed that economists expect Singapore's GDP to grow 3.8 per cent year-on-year in the first quarter, up from the 3.4 per cent median forecast in the previous survey.
Singapore's advance estimate of first-quarter GDP and the central bank's semiannual monetary policy decision, are both due to be released in April.
The Singapore government is expecting a moderation in economic growth this year, pressured by cooling shipments, after a global exports boom helped the city-state's economy grow 3.6 per cent in 2017, the largest expansion in three years.
The latest MAS survey showed that economists' median forecast for core inflation in 2018 was unchanged at 1.6 per cent. Economists' expectations for full-year all-items CPI inflation was also steady at 1.0 per cent.
The central bank's forecast is for core inflation to stay in a range of 1-2 per cent in 2018, while headline inflation is projected to be 0-1 per cent this year.
Economists estimated the Singapore dollar will trade at S$1.29 per US dollar at the end of 2018. The previous median forecast was S$1.34.
The Singapore dollar was trading near S$1.31 per US dollar today, having gained 2 per cent so far in 2018.
Singapore's central bank kept its exchange-rate based monetary policy steady in October but changed a reference to maintaining current settings for an extended period, a shift that analysts said created room for a tightening in 2018. — Reuters