SINGAPORE - Singapore's factory output crept up by 0.1 per cent in September from a year ago, recovering from a bad showing in August when production dropped by a revised 6.4 per cent.
The showing was driven by the jump in contribution from the volatile pharmaceutical segment and aided by a smaller drop in electronics output. It surprised economists polled by Bloomberg, who had expected overall production to shrink again, by 4.8 per cent from a year ago.
Month on month, manufacturing output increased by 3.7 per cent from August, according to preliminary data from the Economic Development Board on Friday (Oct 25). EDB also revised upwards the year-on-year output drop in August to 6.4 per cent from 8 per cent.
The biomedical manufacturing cluster led the gains, expanding by 21.9 per cent year on year compared to 9.5 per cent in August. Leading the charge, pharmaceutical output surged 26.2 per cent, about double August's 13.3 per cent, from higher production of active pharmaceutical ingredients. Higher export demand for medical devices saw a 10.8 per cent increase in medical technology output.
The precision engineering cluster grew by 4 per cent from a year ago because of a hike in output from the machinery and systems. A fall in the precision modules and components segment stopped the cluster from doing better.
Output in the transport engineering cluster grew by 3 per cent from a year ago due to sharp increases in the aerospace and land transport segments.
The key electronics cluster saw output contract by 9.6 per cent in September, a less than 25 per cent fall in August. A 13 per cent decline in the production of semiconductors in September led the fall, though this was much better than the 29.7 per cent plunge in August. The data storage and infocomms & consumer electronics segments grew 16.1 per cent and 15 per cent respectively, while output for the rest of the electronic segments shrank.
General manufacturing output fell by 7.4 per cent from a year ago, with all segments registering declines.
Chemical manufacturing output dropped by 3.9 per cent, despite a higher output in the petrochemicals and petroleum segments.