Singapore’s gross domestic product expanded a seasonally adjusted 2.0 percent on quarter in the first three months of 2021, the Ministry of Trade and Industry said in Wednesday’s advance estimate.
That beat expectations for an increase of 1.5 percent following the 3.8 percent growth in the fourth quarter of 2020.
On a yearly basis, GDP rose 0.2 percent – again beating forecasts for a decline of 0.2 percent following the 2.4 percent contraction in the three months prior.
The yearly increase followed three straight quarters of contraction in 2020, which ended lower by 5.4 percent overall.
The manufacturing sector grew 7.5 percent year in the first quarter, following the 10.3 percent expansion in the previous quarter. Growth of the sector was supported by output expansions in the electronics, precision engineering, chemicals and biomedical manufacturing clusters, which outweighed output declines in the transport engineering and general manufacturing clusters. On a quarterly basis, the manufacturing sector expanded 7.6 percent, a reversal from the 1.4 percent contraction recorded in the fourth quarter of 2020.
The construction sector tumbled 20.2 percent year in the first quarter, improving from the 27.4 percent contraction in the preceding quarter. The improvement followed a pickup in public and private sector construction activities in the first quarter as compared to the previous quarter. On a quarterly basis, the construction sector grew 8.4 percent, extending the 55.6 percent growth in the preceding quarter.
Among the services sectors, the wholesale & retail trade and transportation & storage sectors shrank 4.1 percent in the first quarter, moderating from the 6.4 percent contraction in the previous quarter. The contraction was due to continued weakness in the transportation & storage sector, which was in turn primarily caused by the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic on the air transport, water transport and land transport segments.
By contrast, the wholesale trade and retail trade sectors expanded. On a quarterly basis, these sectors posted growth of 0.9 percent, slower than the 4.1 percent registered in the fourth quarter of last year.
Meanwhile, the information & communications, finance & insurance and professional services sectors collectively grew 3.7 percent in the first quarter, faster than the 1.4 percent expansion in the preceding quarter. Growth was supported by healthy expansions in the information & communications and finance & insurance sectors, even as the professional services sector contracted. On a quarterly basis, the sectors in the group contracted 0.7 percent, a reversal from the 5.1 percent growth in the previous quarter.
The remaining group of services sectors (i.e., accommodation & food services, real estate, administrative & support services and other services industries) shrank 3.9 percent, an improvement from the 9.9 percent contraction in the previous quarter.
All sectors within the group, except for accommodation, contracted as activities in these sectors continued to be weighed down by constraints arising from the implementation of safe management measures. The accommodation sector expanded from a low base and was supported by domestic demand as tourism demand stayed weak. Nonetheless, the level of activity in the sector remained significantly below pre-pandemic levels.
On a quarterly basis, the sectors in the group contracted 1.4 percent, a pullback from the 5.7 percent growth in the preceding quarter.