SINGAPORE - The Singapore economy expanded 3.1 per cent in the last three months of 2017, lifted once again by robust manufacturing growth.

This was higher than economist expectations of 2.6 per cent growth but moderated from the 5.4 per cent expansion in the preceding quarter, according to Trade and Industry Ministry (MTI) advance estimates out on Tuesday (Jan 2).

The latest numbers come after Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in his New Year message on Sunday that the economy expanded 3.5 per cent for the whole of 2017 - more than double initial forecasts.

This was thanks to an upswing in global growth, Mr Lee added.

Manufacturing was once again the key growth driver in the fourth quarter, expanding 6.2 per cent year on year.

Growth was supported primarily by robust output expansions in the electronics and precision engineering clusters, which outweighed output declines in the biomedical manufacturing and transport engineering clusters.

Services, which make up two-thirds of the economy, expanded by 3 per cent, moderating slightly from the 3.2 per cent growth in the preceding three months.

But the construction sector continued to lag, shrinking by 8.5 per cent on a year-on-year basis and extending a 7.7 per cent decline in the previous quarter.

The contraction was largely due to the weakness in private-sector building.