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SINGAPORE'S industrial output fell more than expected in September, marking the first contraction since May. Factory output declined 1.2 per cent year-on-year during the month, pulled down by a 18.3 per cent drop in pharmaceuticals production.
Excluding the volatile biomedical sector, which contracted 10.3 per cent last month, output would have increased by 0.5 per cent.
Economists polled by Bloomberg before the Economic Development Board (EDB) released the data on Friday had been expecting industrial production to fall by a smaller 0.4 per cent.
The electronics cluster, which retains the largest weight of 33.4 per cent on the index, reverted to contraction mode in September. Production shrank 1.7 per cent, dragged down by a 3.6 per cent decline in the output of semiconductors.
Output of the precision engineering and general manufacturing clusters also fell, precision engineering by 0.2 per cent and general manufacturing, by 1.9 per cent.
But bright spots came from the transport engineering and chemicals sectors; transport engineering grew production by 3.9 per cent and chemicals, by 4.1 per cent.
EDB said that after adjusting for seasonal factors, industrial production declined 3.3 per cent month-on-month in September. If biomedical manufacturing is stripped out, output would have risen 1.2 per cent.
The contraction was larger than private-sector economists had earlier forecast - they had been expecting industrial production to fall 1.5 per cent in September from August, on a seasonally-adjusted basis.