MANUFACTURING output in Singapore declined by a less-than-expected 0.5 per cent year-on-year in January, as expansions in the electronics and biomedical manufacturing clusters offset declines in all other areas.
This was a less severe drop than the 4.8 per cent contraction a Reuters survey of 13 economists had forecast.
Excluding the volatile biomedical sector - which swung back to growth of 28.9 per cent last month - overall output would have fallen by a larger 7 per cent, said the Economic Development Board (EDB) on Friday.
EDB added that after adjusting for seasonal factors, industrial production increased 9.3 per cent in January. If biomedical manufacturing were to be stripped out, output would have risen 4.4 per cent.
The heavyweight electronics cluster went back into expansion mode at last in January. Electronics output grew 1.7 per cent, thanks to semiconductors posting a 5.3 per cent increase in production.
But apart from the biomedical manufacturing and electronics clusters, manufacturing output declined across the board.
Transport engineering performed the worst, recording a 23.3 per cent drop in output, as the marine & offshore engineering segment contracted 29.7 per cent.
"(This was) on account of a lower level of rig-building activity and weaker demand for oilfield & gasfield equipment amidst the low oil price environment," said EDB.
Output of the chemicals, general manufacturing, and precision engineering clusters fell 3.7 per cent, 4.4 per cent, and 8.4 per cent year-on-year respectively.