SINGAPORE - Singapore manufacturers started the second half of the year on strong footing despite worries that the pace of growth in the sector might taper.
Factory output surged 21 per cent in July from the same month a year earlier, boosted by robust electronics manufacturing - now the brightest spot in the Singapore economy.
This blew past economists' expectations of a 12.9 per cent rise, as shown in a Bloomberg poll, and the sector's strongest pace of growth so far this year.
Manufacturing, which makes up a fifth of the economy and has been a key growth driver this year, is being lifted by strong global demand for semiconductors and related equipment.
All manufacturing segments expanded last month.
Electronics was the top performer, with output soaring 49.1 per cent from last year, once again driven by the semiconductors, computer peripherals and infocomms and consumer electronics segments.
Output of the precision engineering cluster - which has also benefitted from the rise in global electronics demand - grew 21.8 per cent year-on-year.
The traditionally volatile biomedical manufacturing cluster's output grew 5 per cent, largely led by the medical technology segment which expanded 17.7 per cent on the back of strong export demand for medical devices.
If biomedical manufacturing were not taken into account, overall factory output would have grown 24.9 per cent.
The general manufacturing and chemicals segments also expanded. Even transport engineering - which has been weighed down by the marine and offshore engineering segment - grew 2.3 per cent, thanks to better showings in land transport and aerospace.
On a seasonally adjusted month-on-month basis, factory output increased by 1 per cent in July over June, against expectations of a 3.9 per cent drop. Excluding biomedical manufacturing, output grew 4.9 per cent.