The Singapore economy expanded 4.4% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2018. This was 0.1 percentage point higher than analyst estimate of 4.3% and faster than the 3.6% growth in the previous quarter. The growth was largely due to a 9.8% surge in the manufacturing sector, which accelerated from its 4.8% growth the previous quarter.
However, the services industry declined 1.1% from a year ago, after a 6.3% growth the previous quarter. Non-oil exports came in 1.1% higher than the same period last year. The Ministry of Trade and Industry expects Singapore’s 2018 growth to be slightly above the middle of its forecast range of 1.5% to 3.5%.
Singapore is in third place in a study done by Swiss business school, IMD, on world competitiveness. Singapore is behind the United States, which is in the first place, and Hong Kong in second. The study is based on 258 indicators including economic growth, government debt and business productivity. Netherlands and Switzerland round up the top five spots.
In a separate study, Singapore has also been ranked the fourth most expensive city in Asia to build properties in. Singapore is also the 27th most expensive worldwide. The study was based on relative cost of building in 50 of the world’s major cities. Singapore’s construction market has started to pick up after several years of correction due to over supply. The study has forecast construction cost in Singapore to be between -1% and +2% from a year ago.
In a bid to educate and encourage new investors, The Singapore Exchange (SGX: S68) will be holding its retail education event this weekend at VivoCity. According to Chan Kum Kong, the exchange’s head of research and products, equities and fixed income, said that its data suggests an increase of 32% in traded value per month per investor aged 25 years and younger in the first quarter of 2018 from two years ago. The number of trades also rose 17% over the same period.
Indonesia’s ride-hailing start up, Go-Jek, has announced that it will invest around US$500 million to move into four new markets within the next four months. The new markets are Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines. Go-Jek raised around US$1.5 billion in February. The move will create greater competition in Singapore and heighten its rivalry with local provider, Grab.
Finally, officials have found out that Malaysia’s state investment company, 1MDB, is insolvent and unable to repay debts, which could total almost US$7 billion over the next five years. Directors of the troubled state fund have denied the value and existence of US$2.5 billion worth of purported investments held overseas and could not provide proof of these holdings. Earlier in April 2016, a Malaysian parliamentary committee had identified at least US$4.2 billion in irregular transactions by the 1MDB.
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The information provided is for general information purposes only and is not intended to be personalised investment or financial advice. The Motley Fool Singapore has recommended shares of Singapore Exchange Limited. Motley Fool Singapore contributor Jeremy Chia doesn’t own shares in any companies mentioned.