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Singapore's Exports Soar 21 Percent

Exports jumped 21 percent to $8.6 billion in January, third straight monthly rise, suggesting Singapore's economy will grow sharply in the first quarter.

SINGAPORE (AP) -- Singapore's exports jumped in January for a third straight month as global demand for the city-state's electronics and petrochemicals surged.

Exports excluding oil rose 21 percent from a year earlier to 12.1 billion Singapore dollars ($8.6 billion), according to Trade and Industry Ministry figures released Wednesday.

January's trade figures suggest Singapore's economy will grow sharply in the first quarter compared with a year earlier when the country was mired in a deep recession. The government expects the economy to grow up to 5 percent this year after shrinking 2.1 percent last year.

Electronics -- which account for 39 percent of non-oil exports -- continued to grow, rising 23 percent from a year earlier after climbing 25 percent in December.

Increased demand for petrochemicals, primary chemicals and specialized machinery helped offset a dip in pharmaceutical exports, the ministry said. Pharmaceuticals -- which make up 10 percent of non-oil exports -- fell 30 percent while petrochemicals surged 97 percent.

In seasonally adjusted terms, exports fell 8.9 percent from December.

A 31-percent drop in sales to Europe, Singapore's biggest non-oil export market, was offset by a surge of 76 percent to China and 16 percent to the U.S.

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