Singapore factory output gives Christmas cheer with 7.6% rise in November, topping forecasts

File photo showing workers at a circuit board assembly factory in Singapore. Industry output expanded by 5.3 per cent year on year in November.
File photo showing workers at a circuit board assembly factory in Singapore. Industry output expanded by 5.3 per cent year on year in November.PHOTO: REUTERS

SINGAPORE - Singapore's factory output surged by 7.6 per cent year on year in November, continuing its ascent from the previous month despite talk of a slowdown in the manufacturing sector amid a trough in the global electronics market.

The performance surprised economists who expected manufacturing to grow by 4.2 per cent last month, a Bloomberg consensus poll showed. It also surpassed October's 5.5 per cent growth, which was revised up from the earlier estimated 4.3 per cent rise.

Excluding the more volatile biomedical manufacturing sector, industry output expanded by 5.3 per cent year on year last month, according to data from the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) released on Wednesday (Dec 26).

Manufacturing grew by 2.8 per cent on a month-on-month basis in November.

The biomedical cluster remained the biggest growth driver of Singapore's manufacturing industry, expanding by 18.5 per cent year on year last month, higher than October's 13.1 per cent rise.

Within this category, pharmaceuticals posted the biggest growth of 23.9 per cent year on year with the production of active pharmaceutical ingredients and biological products, said the EDB. Medical technology also saw 6.6 per cent more production in November compared to the same time last year.

The electronics industry, which shrank in September and October, finally ended its lacklustre streak last month, growing by 11.2 per cent. This surge came on the back of a sharp 16.5 per cent growth in semiconductors, 12.6 per cent growth in infocomms and consumer electronics, and 3 per cent growth in the other electronic modules and component segment. However, the data storage and computer peripherals segments shrank in November, said the EDB.

 

The chemicals industry also ended its two-month decline last month, growing 3.4 per cent year on year in November. This was supported by the 18.7 per cent growth in the other chemicals segment due to increased production of fragrances, and the 6.6 per cent growth in the specialties segments owing to the higher output in industrial gases and mineral oil additives. However, petroleum and petrochemicals segments fell 5.3 per cent and 10.9 per cent respectively on account of maintenance shutdowns, said the EDB.

The transport engineering industry grew by 11.3 per cent year on year, with all segments recording positive growth. The marine and offshore engineering segment saw the biggest boost, expanding by 26.6 per cent compared to the low base in November last year. There was also a higher level of work done in offshore projects.

General manufacturing shrank slightly, by 0.8 per cent year on year, despite the growths of the food, beverages, tobacco and miscellaneous industries segments. This was largely offset by the printing sector, which saw a 11 per cent decline year on year.

Precision engineering output also fell by 8.2 per cent in November. Within this category, the machinery and systems segment contracted by 7.5 per cent due to lower production of industrial process control and semiconductor equipment. Precision modules and components also declined 9.2 per cent year on year, with fewer metal precision components and dies, moulds, tools, jigs and fixtures being made in November.