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SINGAPORE'S industrial output fell far more than expected in July, marking the sixth straight month of contraction. Factory output declined 6.1 per cent year on year during the month, with all clusters save chemicals posting a drop in production.
Excluding the volatile biomedical sector - which contracted 13.4 per cent last month - output would have fallen by a smaller 4.1 per cent.
Economists polled by Bloomberg before the Economic Development Board (EDB) released the data on Wednesday had been expecting industrial production to drop by a lesser magnitude of 4 per cent.
The electronics cluster, which retains the largest weight of 33.4 per cent on the index, stayed in contraction mode in July. Production shrank 5.8 per cent, dragged down by a 12 per cent decline in semiconductor output.
Output of the transport engineering, precision engineering and general manufacturing clusters was also dismal; these dropped 6.1 per cent, 6.2 per cent and 3.2 per cent, respectively.
The only bright spot came from the chemicals sector; it grew production by 4.4 per cent, with all segments posting higher output. EDB said the increase was led by the specialties and petroleum segments, which recorded growth of 8.6 per cent and 5.9 per cent respectively.
EDB said that after adjusting for seasonal factors, industrial production increased one per cent in July. If biomedical manufacturing is stripped out, output would have risen 1.2 per cent.
Again, the month-on-month growth was worse than private-sector economists had earlier forecast - they had been expecting industrial production to rise 2.3 per cent in July from June on a seasonally adjusted basis.