SINGAPORE'S manufacturing sector contracted for the fourth straight month in May, with industrial output falling 2.3 per cent on a year-on-year basis, due to broad-based declines in all clusters save chemicals.
This follows April's sharp 9.1 per cent drop, revised from an earlier estimate of an 8.7 per cent decline.
Excluding biomedical output - which fell 2.6 per cent in May - industrial production would have contracted 2.2 per cent.
The 18 economists polled by Bloomberg before the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) released the data on Friday had been expecting factory output to fall a larger 2.6 per cent.
Apart from the chemicals cluster - which grew 1.3 per cent - output of all other clusters contracted.
The electronics cluster saw the smallest drop in output, with a 0.2 per cent decline. The data storage (46.9 per cent), other electronics modules & components (43.9 per cent), and computer peripherals (9.8 per cent) segments expanded, but this was offset by declines in the semiconductors (-9.3 per cent) and infocomms & consumer electronics (-11.8 per cent) segments.
The transport engineering cluster performed the worst - it fell 8.1 per cent year on year in May 2015 with all segments posting lower output. EDB said the marine & offshore engineering segment contracted 5.2 per cent due to lower levels of rig-building activities. Meanwhile, demand for engine repair jobs remained weak, contributing to a 13.2 per cent decline in the aerospace segment.
Output of the remaining clusters - precision engineering and general manufacturing - contracted 1.6 per cent and 2.4 per cent respectively.
EDB said that after adjusting for seasonal factors, industrial production grew 2.4 per cent month on month in May. Excluding biomedical manufacturing, output would have grown 1.1 per cent.
The expansion was higher than private-sector economists had earlier forecast; they had expected industrial production to rise 1.8 per cent in May from April, on a seasonally adjusted basis.