Singapore manufacturing output jumps 11.9% in November, much stronger than expected

The Bukom Shell refinery off Singapore on Sept 29, 2016.
The Bukom Shell refinery off Singapore on Sept 29, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE - Industrial production rose more strongly than expected last month, helped by big increases in the electronics and pharmaceuticals segments, although marine and offshore engineering output continued to plunge.

Manufacturing output rose 11.9 per cent from a year earlier in November, after expanding 1.2 per cent in October, advance data from the Economic Development Board (EDB) on Friday (Dec 23) showed.

The median forecast in a Reuters survey was for a 1.6 per cent increase.

Excluding the more volatile biomedical manufacturing, output grew 6.4 per cent.

On a seasonally-adjusted basis, total production rose 6.1 per cent from the previous month, after falling 0.1 per cent in October. The median forecast was for a contraction of 2 per cent. Excluding biomedical manufacturing, output grew 5.1 per cent.

Sluggish exports and depressed demand for offshore drilling rigs have weighed on Singapore's manufacturing sector. But non-oil domestic exports in November rose 11.5 per cent from a year earlier due to a sharp rise in pharmaceutical shipments. Still, analysts have said it is too early to call a turnaround for the stressed trade sector.

Electronics output - Singapore's biggest manufacturing cluster - grew 24.2 per cent in November from a year ago, with semiconductors output up 49.6 per cent.

Biomedical manufacturing output rose 34.8 per cent year on year, with the pharmaceuticals segment expanding 36.1 per cent.

Tempering the increase in overall output was a slide in output in two clusters - transport engineering and general manufacturing.

Manufacturing activity in transport engineering fell 14.8 per cent, less than the 26.8 per cent drop in October. Marine and offshore engineering remained the worst off with output contracting 23.6 per cent, but off October's 46.4 per cent fall.

General manufacturing output dipped 0.9 per cent, mainly due to the miscellaneous industries and printing segments which contracted 4.5 per cent and 16.2 per cent respectively.