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SINGAPORE's manufacturing sector stayed in contraction mode in December, although the 1.9 per cent year-on-year fall in industrial output was less of a drop than expected. Production in all clusters declined, except for precision engineering.
The 14 economists polled by Bloomberg, before the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) released the numbers on Monday, had been expecting factory output to decrease by a larger 3.4 per cent.
Overall, manufacturing output rose 2.6 per cent in 2014 compared to a year ago.
Excluding the volatile biomedical sector - which contracted 1 per cent last month on a decline in pharmaceutical production - output would have fallen by a larger 2.1 per cent.
Production in the key electronics cluster - which retains the largest weight of 33.4 per cent on the industrial production index - slipped back into negative territory in December with a 2.4 per cent fall in output.
The 10.9 per cent increase in output of the precision engineering cluster was not enough to offset declines in the transport engineering (-6.8 per cent), chemicals (-2.7 per cent), and general manufacturing (-4 per cent) clusters.
EDB said that after adjusting for seasonal factors, industrial production grew 1.8 per cent month-on-month in December. Excluding biomedical manufacturing, output would have increased 1.5 per cent.
The month-on-month expansion was also better than private-sector economists had forecast - they had been expecting factory output to rise a smaller 1.5 per cent in December from November, on a seasonally-adjusted basis.
November's year-on-year factory output performance was also revised to a 2.1 per cent contraction, from an earlier preliminary figure of -2.8 per cent.