SINGAPORE - Singapore's industrial production rose by a better-than-expected 10.2 per cent in March from a year earlier, mainly driven again by electronics output, particularly semiconductors.
March's factory output growth came in the same pace as February, after that month's figure was revised down from its earlier estimate of 12.6 per cent. March's performance also topped the 5.8 per cent increase expected by analysts polled by Bloomberg.
This makes for the eighth straight month that manufacturing output has grown year on year.
On a month on month, seasonally adjusted basis, factory output rose 5 per cent, according to the preliminary figures released on Wednesday (April 26) by the Economic Development Board. This was better than the 0.9 per cent rise tipped by analysts.
Singapore's manufacturing sector, especially high-tech products, has benefitted from a recovery in global trade in recent months. In March, the export recovery widened to non-electronic sectors, due in part to petrochemical and pharmaceutical sales, leading to export growth numbers that beat expectations.
Excluding biomedical manufacturing, factory output grew 12.4 per cent year on year in March and 0.3 per cent month on month.
Electronics output - which accounts for over a fifth of total manufacturing - increased 37.7 per cent in March compared to the same month last year, with most of the credit going to the semiconductors segment which boasted growth of 54.6 per cent.
The other electronic modules & components and data storage segments grew 15.8 per cent and 10.5 per cent respectively. Cumulatively, electronics output has grown 33.1 per cent in the first quarter, compared to the same period last year.
Biomedical manufacturing - the next biggest cluster - saw output edge up 2 per cent year on year in March. The medical technology segment expanded 16.7 per cent due to higher export demand for medical devices. However, the pharmaceuticals segment declined 2.5 per cent with lower production of active. For the quarter, output of this cluster fell 7.5 per cent from a year ago.
The chemicals cluster's output rose 3.5 per cent in March. The petroleum and petrochemicals segments grew 6.7 per cent and 6.4 per cent respectively, as some plants shut down for maintenance last year. The specialties segment grew 5.8 per cent but the chemicals segment contracted 4.1 per cent with lower output of fragrances. In the first three months of this year, the cluster's output rose 2.9 per cent.
The transport engineering cluster's output contracted 15.6 per cent in March. While the land transport and aerospace segments grew 9.3 per cent and 3.2 per cent respectively, the marine & offshore engineering segment remained weak, shrinking 30.6 per cent with a lower level of rig-building activity and lackluster demand for oilfield & gasfield equipment. The segment also recorded lower output in shipbuilding and repair jobs. For the first quarter, this cluster saw a 11.3 per cent drop in output.
Precision engineering production grew 12.8 per cent in March and and 19.4 per cent in the first quarter.
Output of the general manufacturing industries fell 5.1 per cent in March and 6.7 per cent in the first quarter.