Uptick in July factory activity offers glimmer of hope for manufacturers

SINGAPORE - New data appears to offer a glimmer of hope that Singapore's flagging manufacturing sector has turned the corner.

The Singapore Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI), a monthly gauge of the sector's activity, posted a reading of 51.5 in July, an increase over June's 50.5.

A reading above 50 indicates an expansion in factory activity; below 50 points to a contraction.

July's higher reading was attributed to an increase in both domestic and export orders, as well as an uptick in production and inventory.

The data is compiled by the Singapore Institute of Purchasing and Materials Management from a survey of more than 150 industrial firms.

The PMI for the electronics sector - which makes up about a third of manufacturing output - rose 1.7 points in July over June to reach 52.4, its 18th consecutive month of expansion.