Dismal start to 2015 for manufacturing

Q1 GDP growth could come in under 2%; some economists see higher risk of further MAS easing in April


IT was a slow and disappointing start to 2015 for Singapore's manufacturing sector, which grew less than expected in January despite an undemanding year-ago base. The surprisingly weak showing was due to a broad-based, uninspiring performance across all industrial clusters, save biomedical manufacturing and precision engineering.

Factory output rose just 0.9 per cent in January on a year-on-year basis, far lower than the market's consensus forecast of a 3.3 per cent increase. Strip out the volatile biomedical cluster, and the result would have been even worse: a zero-growth outcome with unchanged output.

With February's factory output expected to be weak on Chinese New Year plant closures,...

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