Singapore March PMI slightly lower on new orders, output

SINGAPORE, April 2 Wed Apr 2, 2014 9:30am EDT

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SINGAPORE, April 2 (Reuters) - Growth in Singapore's manufacturing activity slowed slightly in March from February's four-month high as there were fewer new orders, a survey showed on Wednesday.

The Singapore Institute of Purchasing & Materials Management's Purchasing Managers' index (PMI) edged down to 50.8 last month, compared with 50.9 in February.

The institute's PMI for the electronics sector, however, rose to 51.6 in March from 51.2 the previous month.

A reading above 50 indicates that manufacturing sector activity is generally expanding, while one below that points to a contraction.

"The dip in the overall PMI was attributed to lower new orders as well as lower levels of production output and inventory," the institute said in a statement.

Manufacturing activity in Asia and Europe slowed in March, but performance in the U.S. factories remained relatively stable.

The weaker Singapore PMI came ahead of the central bank's semi-annual monetary policy meeting later this month.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) is expected to stick to its stance of allowing a "modest and gradual" appreciation of the Singapore dollar at its policy review, analysts said.

It conducts monetary policy by managing the rise or fall of the local dollar against the currencies of its main trading partners.

The central bank's expectations of inflationary pressure may prevent it from easing the policy, even though the Singapore economy may be affected by a slowing Chinese economy.

MAS has said it expects core inflation to rise over the next few quarters due to the possible pass-through of rising cost pressures that firms face from higher wages, and sees core inflation averaging 2-3 percent in 2014. (Reporting by Jongwoo Cheon; Editing by Richard Borsuk)

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