Manufacturing expands 12.6% in February, more than expected, on surging chip output

The cell production line at REC Solar ASA manufacturing facility in Tuas.
The cell production line at REC Solar ASA manufacturing facility in Tuas.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The buoyant mood in manufacturing continued unabated in February as the sector logged yet another month of better-than-expected growth.

Factory output rose 12.6 per cent in February over the same month a year earlier, stronger than economists' expectations of a 10 per cent rise.

The sector, which makes up one-fifth of the economy, is benefitting from a more sanguine global outlook and strong demand for electronics, particularly semiconductors.

While output in the volatile biomedical manufacturing sector dipped, this was offset by a surge in electronics output, which swelled 39.8 per compared with the same month a year earlier.


This was mainly attributed to the semiconductors segment which posted robust growth of 63.6 per cent, according to data from the Economic Development Board released on Friday (March 24).

Excluding biomedical manufacturing, which fell 2.6 per cent, overall factory output rose 17.1 per cent.

Other segments also did well.

The precision engineering cluster expanded 26.2 per cent, while the general manufacturing output grew 3.3 per cent.

The chemicals cluster also grew 1.9 per cent year-on-year.

However, the transport engineering cluster continued to contract, shrinking 9.6 per cent mainly due to poor sentiment in marine and offshore engineering.

The segment remained weak amid low oil prices, which have weighed on rigbuilding activity and demand for oilfield and gasfield equipment.