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Economists raise 2017 Singapore growth forecast: MAS survey

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Economists raised their forecasts for Singapore's growth this year as they upgraded their views on the manufacturing sector and exports, a central bank survey showed on Wednesday.

The median forecast of 23 economists surveyed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) was for gross domestic product (GDP) to grow 2.3 percent in 2017, up from the 1.5 percent estimated in the previous survey published in December.

That would mark a slight pick-up from 2.0 percent growth recorded in 2016, and would be in the upper half of the government's official 2017 GDP forecast range of 1-3 percent.

Economists now expect the manufacturing sector to expand 4.5 percent in 2017, up from 1.1 percent in the December survey. Non-oil domestic exports are expected to grow 6.1 percent in 2017, up from the previous median forecast of 0.3 percent growth.

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The median forecast for year-on-year GDP growth in the first quarter was 2.6 percent, up from 1.3 percent previously.

But that would be slightly slower than the fourth quarter of last year, when GDP expanded 2.9 percent from a year earlier. Compared with the previous quarter, GDP grew 12.3 percent on an annualized basis in the October-December quarter. [nL4N1G12M8]

The central bank's core inflation gauge was seen likely to rise 1.5 percent for the whole of 2017, up from the previous median forecast of 1.3 percent.

According to the latest MAS survey, economists' median forecast for all-items CPI inflation in 2017 was unchanged at 1.0 percent.

Economists estimated that the Singapore dollar <SGD=D3> will trade at 1.4600 against the U.S. dollar by end-2017. It was trading near 1.4145 on Wednesday.

Singapore's advance estimate of first quarter GDP and the central bank's twice-yearly monetary policy decision, are both expected to be released in mid-April.

Most economists expect the MAS to keep policy unchanged, after growth picked up late last year, while inflationary pressures are seen likely to remain relatively subdued. [nL4N1F32CD]

(Reporting by Masayuki Kitano; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)

 
 
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