SINGAPORE - Singapore's manufacturing output came in lower than expected last month, growing 2.7 per cent compared to the same period in 2017, despite a boost from pharmaceuticals.
This was below the 4 per cent year-on-year growth predicted by economists in a Bloomberg poll.
Overall industrial output for 2018, however, rose 7.2 per cent from the year before, said the Economic Development Board (EDB) on Friday (Jan 25).
The smaller rise in December came in spite of help from the biomedical manufacturing cluster, where output rose 29.9 per cent.
Excluding biomedical manufacturing, overall factory output fell 1.8 per cent.
On a seasonally adjusted month-on-month basis, manufacturing output decreased 5.6 per cent as well.
In the biomedical manufacturing cluster,pharmaceuticals output in particular expanded 41.2 per cent with higher production of active pharmaceutical ingredients and biological products. Another contributor was the medical technology segment, which grew 5.4 per cent.
The only other cluster which logged an increase was transport engineering, where outputgrew 23.7 per cent year-on-year last month.
Key contributors to the rise were the marine and offshore engineering segment, which expanded 31.8 per cent on the back of a higher level of work done in offshore projects, as well as the aerospace segment, which grew 22.3 per cent. This came about with more repair and maintenance activities from commercial airlines.
Four other clusters saw drops, including in electronics, where output decreased 6.8 per cent last month.
Most electronic segments contracted, except for the infocomms and consumer electronics segment which grew 12 per cent, as well as the other electronic modules and components segment, which rose 6.6 per cent.
Precision engineering output saw the largest fall of 8.7 per cent in December, with the machinery and systems segment dropping 0.3 per cent due to lower production in semiconductor equipment.
The precision modules and components segment declined 21.6 per cent, with lower output of optical instruments, metal precision components and dies, moulds, tools, jigs and fixtures.
The chemicals cluster saw a fall of1.4 per cent. Even as the specialties segment grew 8.5 per cent in December, the other chemicals segment fell 2.3 per cent and petrochemicals slipped 10.6 per cent.
These came about due to recorded lower output in fragrances and, in the case of petrochemicals, a drop in production due to maintenance shutdown.
General manufacturing output dropped 5.7 per cent as well, largely due to the printing segment which fell 7.2 per cent, as well as the food, beverages and tobacco segment which declined 9.6 per cent. The latter saw a lower output in beverage products, said the EDB.
Overall, all clusters saw an increase in output for 2018, compared to 2017.