October 16, 2019 / 3:19 PM / a month ago

UPDATE 1-Singapore's 2019 growth above zero if "lucky", says PM

SINGAPORE, Oct 16 (Reuters) - Singapore’s prime minister said on Wednesday that the city-state’s economy should hopefully have slightly expanded over the course of 2019.

Lee Hsien Loong said the trade-reliant economy, seen as a bellwether for global growth, was facing uncertain times due to the Sino-U.S. trade war and a global economic slowdown.

The city-state narrowly dodged recession in the third quarter, data showed this week, and its central bank eased monetary policy for the first time in three years.

“This year we will be well under 1% (growth),” Lee said, speaking at the Forbes global CEO conference. “If we are lucky, we should be above zero but the momentum has substantially diminished.”

Authorities have forecast full-year growth of between 0-1% in 2019.

Lee, 67, the son of Singapore’s founding father Lee Kuan Yew, added that he planned to hand over the reins to his successor shortly after an election widely-expected to take place within months.

“After the next general election, I hope within a not too long time, I’ll be able to hand over to my successor,” Lee said.

He declined to comment on the exact timing of the election, which must take place by early 2021. (Reporting by John Geddie; Editing by Toby Chopra and Alex Richardson)

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