Singapore factory output in October beats forecasts with 4.3% rise

On a seasonally adjusted month-on-month basis, October's manufacturing output also ended a three-month streak of decline.
On a seasonally adjusted month-on-month basis, October's manufacturing output also ended a three-month streak of decline.PHOTO: ST FILE

Production from the manufacturing sector surged last month, well outpacing market expectations after a lacklustre effort in September.

Output soared 4.3 per cent year on year in October, a stark rebound from the previous month's 0.1 per cent dip and well ahead of economist estimates of a 2.6 per cent expansion. If the volatile biomedical manufacturing sector is excluded, output grew 3 per cent, preliminary estimates from the Economic Development Board showed yesterday.

On the downside, electronics output fell for the second straight month, down 2.7 per cent year on year, with semiconductors, computer peripherals and data storage all contracting. Other electronic modules and components grew 5.1 per cent, while the infocomm and consumer electronics segments grew 1.7 per cent.

Despite this, the electronics cluster's output has still seen a cumulative increase of 8.9 per cent from January to last month, compared with the same period last year.

The only other cluster to contract last month was chemicals, down 1 per cent year on year. Production in the petroleum segment fell 9.6 per cent, while petrochemicals declined 14.7 per cent, both due to maintenance shutdowns. The "other chemicals" segment grew 15.1 per cent with higher output in fragrances.

Transport engineering remained the top-performing cluster for the second straight month, with output up 30.8 per cent over October last year. All segments recorded growth: Marine and offshore engineering expanded 52.2 per cent on the back of a low base last year and more work done in offshore projects, while aerospace grew 15.6 per cent with more engine repair and maintenance work from commercial airlines.

Biomedical manufacturing output grew 11.5 per cent last month, a marked turnaround from September's 9.3 per cent contraction. Pharmaceuticals output expanded 15.8 per cent with higher production, while the medical technology segment grew 2.9 per cent to meet export demand from the US.

On the downside, electronics output fell for the second straight month, falling 2.7 per cent year on year.

Precision engineering output advanced 1.4 per cent and general manufacturing ended a three-month slide, growing 1.3 per cent.

Although the printing segment remained in contraction, the miscellaneous industries category grew 2.9 per cent with higher production in structural metal products and batteries, while the food, beverages and tobacco segment rose 2.1 per cent with higher output in infant milk and dairy products.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 27, 2018, with the headline 'Singapore factory output in October beats forecasts with 4.3% rise'. Print Edition | Subscribe