Banks more bearish on S'pore

ECONOMISTS at major foreign banks have slashed forecasts for Singapore's economic outlook, as the slumping global economy batters its key export sector.

Goldman Sachs, for example, now believes Singapore's economic output will shrink by 8 per cent this year compared with last year. It previously forecast a 4 per cent slide.

The United States bank is among the most bearish in terms of outlook.

Credit Suisse expects a 6.5 per cent contraction. Its earlier forecast was for a fall of 5 per cent.

HSBC now sees a 7 per cent slide, after earlier predicting a 5 per cent retreat.

If that 7 per cent figure proves correct, it would easily be Singapore's poorest performance since the data was first compiled in the mid-1970s, HSBC said.

All the downgrades came shortly after Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew raised the possibility that the economy could shrink by as much as 10 per cent this year.

Speaking earlier this month, Mr Lee said this could happen if Singapore's exports continue to drop at the same speed as they did earlier this year.

They fell 35 per cent in January.

Analysts say that given the open nature of Singapore's economy, the downturn would hit almost all sectors.


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