SINGAPORE factory output jumped 16.4 per cent in February, in its fourth straight month of growth, as the linchpin electronics cluster continued to underpin gains.
The latest surge extended the year-on-year increase of 9.2 per cent in January, and beat the median estimate of 15.8 per cent expansion in a Bloomberg poll.
When biomedical contributions were excluded, industrial production added 13.6 per cent, according to figures from the Economic Development Board (EDB) on Friday.
That's even as the biomedical manufacturing cluster grew by 23.9 per cent on higher output of active pharmaceutical ingredients and with higher export demand for medical devices. It was the volatile cluster's first month in the black since November last year.
Electronics, on the other hand, spiked 30.3 per cent, led by a surge in semiconductor output. "In particular, growth of the semiconductors segment was supported by demand from 5G markets and a low production base a year ago," said the EDB.
Similarly, precision engineering, which produces semiconductor-related equipment, grew by 15 per cent despite lower production of dies, moulds, tools, jigs and fixtures in the precision modules and components segment.
Chemicals output was also positive, increasing by 2.5 per cent on higher production of industrial gases and additives in the specialties segment and a rebound in petrochemicals from a year-ago low base. These gains offset production declines in petroleum and other chemicals.
But transport engineering contracted for the 11th straight month on prolonged weakness in shipyard and aerospace activity. Cluster output fell 24.2 per cent, despite higher output of parts and accessories for motor vehicles in the land transport segment.
Meanwhile, general manufacturing output shed 5.5 per cent, which the EDB attributed in part to the timing of the Chinese New Year festive season. The mild rise in production of clothes and batteries was offset by lower production of milk powder products and a plunge in printing.
On a seasonally adjusted, monthly basis, industrial production grew by 1.6 per cent in February, though it dipped 0.1 per cent when biomedical manufacturing was excluded.