Decline in Singapore's manufacturing output accelerates in April, with 8.7% fall

Singapore's manufacturing output fell 8.7 percent in April compared to the same month last year, on lower production in the volatile pharmaceutical cluster. -- PHOTO: ST FILE
Singapore's manufacturing output fell 8.7 percent in April compared to the same month last year, on lower production in the volatile pharmaceutical cluster. -- PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The decline in Singapore's manufacturing activity worsened in April, with output falling 8.7 per cent compared to the same month a year ago on lower production in the volatile pharmaceutical cluster, according to preliminary figures from the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) on Tuesday.

This also means that factory activity has contracted for three consecutive months, having fallen 5.5 per cent in March and 3.6 per cent in February.

Excluding the volatile biomedical manufacturing cluster, output declined by a lesser 1.9 per cent year-on-year in April.

On a seasonally adjusted month-on-month basis, manufacturing output decreased 5.8 per cent in April compared to March. Excluding biomedical manufacturing, output fell 2.2 per cent.

"Given weak external demand, we expect industrial production activity to remain weak, going forward," Standard Chartered economists said before the report.

The electronics sector, which accounts for a third of total production, reported that output grew 1.2 per cent year-on-year in April. Growth came from higher export demand in the other electronics modules & components (41.7 per cent), data storage (24.9 per cent) and computer peripherals (18.4 per cent) segments. Cumulatively, output of the electronics cluster declined 2.2 per cent from January to April this year, compared to the same period last year.

Production in the unpredictable pharmaceuticals segment fell 38 per cent with lower production of active pharmaceutical ingredients and biological products. This outweighed the 28.1 per cent expansion in the medical technology segment from robust demand for medical devices and supplies. The overall biomedical manufacturing cluster's output declined 28.6 per cent in April compared to a year ago. On a year-to-date basis, the cluster's output is down 10 per cent year-on-year.