Singapore factory output rises 5.3% in November despite drag from pharma

Employees working at the wafer production line at REC Solar ASA manufacturing facility in Tuas. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Manufacturers have real reason to be jolly this season as the strengthening global economy continues to buoy demand for Singapore's exports.

The Republic's factory output expanded 5.3 per cent year on year last month. This was below economists' expectations of a 8.1 per cent increase - largely because of a plunge in biomedical manufacturing output, which tends to be volatile.

But most other segments continued to record strong expansion, including electronics manufacturing, which has been a key driver of economic growth this year.

Excluding biomedical manufacturing, overall factory output would have gone up 13.9 per cent.

Manufacturing, which makes up a fifth of the economy, has been a standout performer this year, thanks largely to surging global demand for semiconductors and related gear.

The electronics cluster's output expanded 27.6 per cent in November over the same month a year earlier, as the semiconductors, computer peripherals and infocomms and consumer electronics segment posted strong growth.

Electronics output has surged 37.1 per cent from January to November this year, compared with the same period last year.

Precision engineering, which has also benefited from the pickup in electronics demand, grew 19.9 per cent year on year in November, according to Economic Development Board data out on Tuesday.

The chemicals cluster's output also increased 7.5 per cent, with all segments recording growth.

But the headline numbers were dragged down by biomedical manufacturing, which saw output decline 23.3 per cent year on year. This came as pharmaceuticals output fell 31.1 per cent due to a different product mix being produced.

The transport engineering cluster also fared less well. Output decreased 8.3 per cent year on year in November, dragged down by declines in the land transport and marine and offshore engineering segments.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.