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SINGAPORE'S manufacturing activity contracted farther than expected last month to reach its lowest level in three years.
February's purchasing managers' index (PMI) for the manufacturing sector was at 48.5, a 0.5 drop from January's number. Readings above 50 show that the sector is generally expanding from the previous month, and those below 50 denote contraction.
An earlier Bloomberg poll of seven economists put the median estimate at 48.9.
This would put February's manufacturing activity in its eighth straight month of contraction, and the lowest recorded reading since December 2012, wrote Singapore Institute of Purchasing and Materials Management (SIPMM), the institute that compiled the data, in a report released on Wednesday.
February's decline was dragged down by fewer new orders in factory output, and lower employment numbers, on top of electronics' poor showing, wrote SIPMM. The electronics sub-sector saw a 0.3 fall in its PMI to reach 48.2 in February.
In another sign of possible slowing demand for manufacturing, level of inventories and stocks rose for the 150 industrial companies polled.
The companies come from 12 industry groupings, and each industry's performance is weighted based on its contribution to gross domestic product.