Singapore factory activity hits 3-year low in Feb, as manufacturing continues to shrink

A worker in a medical clean room environment at a manufacturing plant in Woodlands.
A worker in a medical clean room environment at a manufacturing plant in Woodlands.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Manufacturing activity is at its lowest point since December 2012, as factory output, new orders and employment all fell last month.

The Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) - an early indicator of manufacturing activity - contracted for the eighth straight month to post a reading of 48.5 in February, a level last seen in 2012.

A reading below 50 shows that more purchasing managers reported a deterioration in business than those noting an improvement.

February's reading is slightly weaker than the median forecast for a 48.9 contraction tipped by private sector economists in a Bloomberg poll.

In January, the PMI was at 49.0, after falling to 49.5 in December.

Weaker activity in the electronics cluster - which has been contracting each month since July last year - weighed down the February reading, said the Singapore Institute of Purchasing & Materials Management, which compiles the PMI.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch economist Chua Hak Bin said: "February's data confirms that manufacturing still remains in recession - and it is possibly deepening."