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Singapore's September factory output grows 0.1%; defies expectations of a fall

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Singapore's manufacturing output saw a modest year-on-year uptick of 0.1 per cent in September, boosted by biomedical manufacturing and defying private economists' expectations of a 4.8 per cent decline.

SINGAPORE'S manufacturing output saw a modest year-on-year uptick of 0.1 per cent in September, boosted by biomedical manufacturing and defying private economists' expectations of a 4.8 per cent decline.

Excluding the volatile biomedical manufacturing sector, however, output fell by 4.3 per cent, according to estimates released by the Economic Development Board of Singapore (EDB) on Friday.

On a seasonally adjusted month-on-month basis, manufacturing output grew 3.7 per cent in September. With biomedical manufacturing stripped out, output grew 5.9 per cent.

Biomedical manufacturing was the star performer in September with an expansion of 21.9 per cent. The pharmaceutical segment grew 26.2 per cent with higher production of active pharmaceutical ingredients, while the medical technology sector rose 10.8 per cent on the back of higher export demand for medical devices, EDB said.

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Electronics continued to be the worst performing sector in September with a year-on-year contraction of 9.6 per cent. But this was already an improvement over August, which registered a 25 per cent year-on-year decline then.

The electronics cluster was dragged down by the semiconductors and computer peripherals segments, with a decline of 13 per cent and 10.4 per cent respectively, even though data storage grew by 16.1 per cent, and infocomm and consumer electronics expanded by 15 per cent. Overall, the electronics cluster’s output fell 8.1 per cent in the first nine months of this year, compared to the same period last year.

General manufacturing fell 7.4 per cent year on year in September, after staying in positive territory the previous two months, with all segments recording decline. EDB said the food, beverages and tobacco segment contracted 10.9 per cent, on account of lower output of milk powder and beverage products. 

Precision engineering output grew by 4 per cent in September compared to a year ago. The machinery and systems segment grew 11.9 per cent with higher output of industrial process control and front-end semiconductor equipment, while the precision modules and components segment declined 6.5 per cent on the back of lower production of optical and wire and cable products, EDB said.

Transport engineering saw a year-on-year growth of 3 per cent in September. The aerospace and land transport segments grew 39 per cent and 18 per cent respectively, with the former registering more repair and maintenance jobs from commercial airlines, EDB said. On the other hand, the marine and offshore engineering segment fell 27.3 per cent, on account of lower levels of offshore, and shipbuilding and repairing activities.

Output for the chemicals cluster decreased 3.9 per cent year on year in September. The petrochemicals and petroleum segments grew 6.9 per cent and 3.0 per cent respectively following maintenance shutdowns in the  previous month, EDB said. But this was moderated by falls in the other chemicals segment at 4.6 per cent and the specialities segments at 11.7 per cent, with the latter recording lower output due to maintenance shutdowns.