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Quick takes: Economists point to challenging outlook for industrial output

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Singapore's industrial production has declined for nine months in a row, with output falling 5.4 per cent year-on-year in October.

SINGAPORE'S industrial production has declined for nine months in a row, with output falling 5.4 per cent year-on-year in October.

The Economic Development Board (EDB) released the latest data on Thursday afternoon. The paltry headline figure was in line with the market's expectation of a 5.3 per cent drop.

Here's what private-sector economists had to say:

DBS economist Irvin Seah: "This latest set of industrial production numbers provides a glimpse of what lies ahead in the coming months. All is not good in this regard. The global environment remains challenging. China is slowing and the US Fed is rushing to hike rates.

"The only silver lining is that on a month-on-month basis, production has picked up by 2.5 per cent month-on-month (in seasonally-adjusted terms). But how sustainable that will be remains a question given the fickle nature of external demand."

UOB economist Francis Tan: "Looking at the time series of industrial production since 2003, the current period of contraction is longer than the six months of consecutive contraction back during the global financial crisis (Oct 2008 to Mar 2009)."

Still, he noted that the magnitude of decline this time round is relatively smaller than during the 2008/2009 crisis period.

"The average industrial production contraction during this period is 5 per cent, whereas during the crisis, the decline averaged 17 per cent year-on-year," said Mr Tan.