CONTRARY to expectations, Singapore's manufacturing sector slipped into contraction mode in November. Factory output declined 2.8 per cent year on year, as production in all clusters except electronics and precision engineering declined.
The 17 economists polled by Bloomberg, before the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) released the numbers on Friday, had been expecting industrial production to rise by 0.3 per cent.
Excluding the volatile biomedical sector - which contracted 1.1 per cent last month - output would have fallen by a larger 3.1 per cent.
The 1.2 per cent rise in output of the electronics cluster - which retains the largest weight of 33.4 per cent on the industrial production index - was not enough to offset declines in the chemicals (-6.9 per cent), transport engineering (-5.9 per cent), and general manufacturing (-10.2 per cent) clusters.
EDB said that after adjusting for seasonal factors, industrial production contracted 1.4 per cent month on month in November. Excluding biomedical manufacturing, output would have increased 1.6 per cent.
The month-on-month contraction surprised private-sector economists as well - they had been expecting factory output to rise 0.4 per cent in November from October, on a seasonally-adjusted basis.
October's year-on-year factory output performance was also revised to a 0.2 per cent contraction, from an earlier preliminary figure of a 0.2 per cent expansion.