SINGAPORE'S manufacturing sector expanded - albeit barely - in October, with industrial output rising just 0.2 per cent on a year-on-year basis.
It was pulled up by a double-digit increase in pharmaceuticals production, which offset contractions in the electronics and transport engineering clusters.
Excluding biomedical output - which grew 22.5 per cent in October - industrial production would have declined 4.3 per cent.
Economists polled by Bloomberg before the Economic Development Board (EDB) released the data on Wednesday had been expecting factory output to rise by a larger 0.6 per cent.
Apart from the biomedical, precision engineering, and chemicals clusters - which grew 22.5 per cent, 1.3 per cent, and 2.3 per cent respectively - output of all other clusters fell.
Electronics production dropped 6.1 per cent in October, as the semiconductors, computer peripherals, and data storage segments contracted 0.5 per cent, 31.1 per cent, and 18.5 per cent respectively.
Transport engineering was the worst-performing cluster, with output declining 8.8 per cent on lower contributions from rig building and ship conversion projects, and slow demand for aerospace engine repair jobs.
The general manufacturing cluster contracted 3.3 per cent.
EDB said that after adjusting for seasonal factors, industrial production grew 2.6 per cent month-on-month in October. Excluding biomedical manufacturing, output would have fallen 3.4 per cent.
The expansion was smaller than private-sector economists had earlier forecast - they had expected industrial production to rise 3.2 per cent in October from September, on a seasonally-adjusted basis.