Singapore factory activity rises in July, bucking regional trend

Factory activity in Singapore powered to another two-year high last month in contrast with the sluggish performance of regional manufacturers.

The Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) - a gauge of anticipated factory orders - rose to 51.8 in July, according to the latest index released on Thursday.

A reading above 50 signals expansion while one below 50 indicates contraction.

The figure was 0.1 point higher than June's and marked a fifth straight month of expansion.

It also trumped economists' expectations of 51.3 and was the highest reading since 52.5 in April 2011.

Analysts pointed to improved outlooks in industries such as shipbuilding and general manufacturing.

Singapore's manufacturing sector has continued to buck a trend of falling factory activity in the rest of the region.

PMI readings fell last month in Taiwan, Korea, Indonesia and Japan. The HSBC PMI for China slid from 48.2 in June to 47.7 in July, though the country's official PMI rose from 50.1 to 50.3.

Singapore's overall PMI increase came despite a drop in the crucial electronics sector PMI. That fell 0.9 point to 50.3 in July from June, the biggest decline since September last year.