Exports contract for 7th straight mth

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PHILIPPINE merchandise exports fell for a seventh consecutive month in October, contracting by 10.8 percent from a year earlier to $4.59 billion as global demand remained sluggish.

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A year earlier, outbound shipments grew by 2.4 percent to $5.15 billion. The October drop trimmed the year-to-date tally to $52.13 billion, down 6.2 percent from the comparable 2014 period.

The Philippine Statistics Authority traced the contraction to declines in seven of the country’s top 10 exports, offsetting gains made by electronic products—the country’s number one export item.

The seven exports that recorded double digit drops were other apparel and clothing accessories (-53.6 percent), other mineral products, (-50.2 percent), chemicals (-40.3 percent), metal components (-35.9 percent), coconut oil (-31.2 percent), other manufactures (-30 percent), and machinery and transport equipment (-18 percent).

Electronic products, the country’s top export with a 52 percent share of the total, increased by 7.3 percent to $2.29 billion. Semiconductors, in particular, grew by 11.7 percent to $1.70 billion.

The other positive performers were woodcrafts and furniture, up 43.2 percent; and ignition and wiring sets and other wiring sets used in vehicles, aircrafts and ships, which gained by 5.1 percent.

Japan was the Philippines’ top export market in October, accounting for 22.6 percent of total outbound shipments or $1.04 billion. This, however, was down 7.7 percent from a year ago.

The United States came in second with a 14.7 percent share or $675.35 million. It was followed by Hong Kong, China and Singapore.

United Kingdom-based investment bank Barclays said soft exports and weak momentum were consistent with a recent deterioration in the US manufacturing index.

“In the absence of a meaningful pickup in external demand, exports are likely to remain subdued, in our view,” it said.

Barclays said growth momentum was holding up well but it could moderate in the coming quarters given poor weather — the El Niño cycle intensified in the second half of 2015 — and weak consumption.

“As such, we maintain our 2015 to 2016 growth forecasts at 5.5 percent,” it said.

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