SINGAPORE - Singapore's factory output grew 5.9 per cent in March compared to a year ago, comparable to economists' predictions of a 5.7 per cent rise, according to preliminary Economic Development Board figures on Thursday (April 26).
Excluding biomedical manufacturing, which tends to be volatile, output grew 8.6 per cent year on year.
However, on a seasonally adjusted basis, manufacturing output edged up just 0.3 per cent in March compared to February, and fell 4.3 per cent excluding biomedical manufacturing.
The March figure of 5.9 per cent year-on-year growth also lagged February's growth rate of 6.7 per cent, which was revised down significantly from the 8.9 per cent rise previously estimated.
Electronics continued to be the strongest performer, with output expanding 12.4 per cent year on year. The semiconductor segment's 18.8 per cent growth more than made up for declines in most other electronics segments.
Cumulatively, the electronics cluster has seen a stronger first three months this year compared to 2017, with output up 19.2 per cent.
Precision engineering saw output rise 10.5 per cent in March, with the precision modules and components segment posting robust growth of 31.1 per cent. In the first three months, the precision engineering cluster has grown 14 per cent more than over the same period a year ago.
Chemicals output rose 8.2 per cent in March. This was on the back of growth in all segments, led by a 20.4 per cent rise in petrochemicals output. For the first three months, chemicals output was up 10 per cent compared to a year ago.
Transport engineering saw a 3.5 per cent rise, led by the aerospace segment's 13.1 per cent expansion. In contrast, the marine and offshore engineering segment contracted 6.5 per cent, with lower activity levels in shipbuilding and repairing, as well as oilfield and gasfield equipment industries.
General manufacturing output slid 0.6 per cent. A 4.4 per cent rise in food, beverages and tobacco was more than offset by declines of 3.2 per cent in miscellaneous industries and 13.3 per cent in printing.
The volatile biomedical manufacturing cluster fared worst, with output declining 5.4 per cent year on year in March. For the first three months, the cluster's output is down 2.1 per cent compared to the same period a year ago.