Singapore's factory output shrinks 1.2% in September as biomedical production tumbles

Workers at Add-Plus, an electronics manufacturing company that makes printed circuit boards. Manufacturing output here contracted 1.2 per cent in September from the same month a year ago, mainly due to a sharp drop in biomedical production, the
Workers at Add-Plus, an electronics manufacturing company that makes printed circuit boards. Manufacturing output here contracted 1.2 per cent in September from the same month a year ago, mainly due to a sharp drop in biomedical production, the Economic Development Board (EDB) said on Friday. -- PHOTO: ST FILE

Manufacturing output here contracted 1.2 per cent in September from the same month a year ago, mainly due to a sharp drop in biomedical production, the Economic Development Board (EDB) said on Friday.

Excluding biomedical output, the second-biggest segment in manufacturing, factory output rose 0.5 per cent from a year ago, the EDB said.

Economists had already flagged the possibility that August's manufacturing rebound, when total output rose 4.2 per cent year-on-year, would be halted by September's figures, which compare to a high base in the same month last year.

Biomedical manufacturing output fell 10.3 per cent last month, compared with the same period a year ago. The medical technology segment expanded 28.1 per cent, partly due to a low base last year. However, the pharmaceuticals segment contracted 18.3 per cent due to lower output in active pharmaceutical ingredients and biologics products.

Electronics production, which accounts for about a third of overall output, fell 1.7 per cent year-on-year in September. The other electronic modules and components, and infocomms and consumer electronics segments grew 15.1 per cent and 6.1 per cent, respectively, but this was offset by declines in the semiconductors (-3.6 per cent) and computer peripherals segments (-10.3 per cent).

The chemicals cluster's output rose 4.1 per cent on a year-on-year basis, with the petrochemicals segment recording growth of 12.8 per cent, partly due to multiple plant maintenance shutdowns in September last year. The other chemicals and specialties segments grew 6.2 per cent and 2.2 per cent, respectively, as a result of higher regional demand, but this was partly offset by the 9.5 per cent decline in petroleum output.

Production in the transport engineering cluster rose 3.9 per cent year-on-year in September, mainly due to the marine and offshore engineering segment, which expanded 11.2 per cent with higher levels of activities from rig building, and oilfield and gasfield equipment production. On the other hand, output of the aerospace segment fell 18.1 per cent as repair job orders from commercial airlines remained weak.

Output of the precision engineering cluster contracted 0.2 per cent. The machinery and systems segment rose 4.9 per cent, supported by higher export demand for semiconductor related equipment and process control equipment. However, the precision modules and components segment fell 6.2 per cent, on account of lower output in wire and cable products and metal stamping.