Singapore factory activity continues to gain momentum

SINGAPORE - Manufacturing activity in Singapore kept picking up pace last month, even as factories elsewhere in the region started the second quarter on a softer note.

The Singapore Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) reached its highest level in seven months, as manufacturers reported more new domestic and export orders, as well as growth in production and inventory.

This sent the monthly gauge of manufacturing activity to 51.1 in April, up from 50.8 in March. A reading above 50 indicates growth.

The PMI has been in expansionary territory for four straight months.

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

Elsewhere in Asia, PMI numbers were less upbeat despite gradually recovering global economic sentiment.

South Korea and Taiwan reported a slight easing in April's manufacturing growth compared with March, while China's factories entered their fourth consecutive month of declining activity, according to HSBC data.

Business conditions in the Japanese manufacturing sector deterirorated in April for the first time in 14 months, partly owing to an increase in the country's sales tax.