Singapore manufacturing output jumps 21.3% in December, best in 5 years, smashing forecasts

The Dyson advanced motor manufacturing facility in Singapore.
The Dyson advanced motor manufacturing facility in Singapore. PHOTO: DYSON

SINGAPORE - Singapore's manufacturing output in December surged 21.3 per cent from a year ago, about twice as much as analysts expected and the best monthly performance since December 2011, when production jumped 25.2 per cent.

Analysts polled by Bloomberg were expecting output last month to rise 10.4 per cent.

The December showing comes after output in November jumped 11.9 per cent. The surprisingly strong year-end performance pushed factory output for 2016 to a 3.6 per cent growth over 2015.

Speaking before the latest EDB report, analysts had said new US President Donald Trump's protectionist stance and the uncertainty posed by Brexit had posed risks to Singapore's manufacturing recovery.

Excluding the more volatile contribution from biomedical manufacturing, output in December still grew a strong 16.1 per cent, according to figures from the Economic Development Board (EDB) on Thursday (Jan 26).

On a month-on-month and seasonally adjusted basis, production grew 6.4 per cent in December compared to November - analysts were expecting a 4.5 per cent drop. Excluding biomedical manufacturing, output rose an even stronger 6.9 per cent.

Output from the key electronics cluster surged 49.4 per cent in December from a year ago. This was led by the semiconductors segment, which saw output soaring 94 per cent. For the whole of 2016, output of the electronics cluster expanded 15.9 per cent compared to 2015.

The biomedical manufacturing cluster grew 44.9 per cent year on year in December. The pharmaceuticals segment expanded 53.8 per cent while the medical technology segment grew 19 per cent. The whole cluster grew 13.6 per cent last year.

The precision engineering cluster saw a 6.1 per cent rise in output in December, with a 0.8 per cent increase for the full year.

The transport engineering cluster was the worst-performing for the month and year. Its output contracted 10.5 per cent in December. The aerospace and land transport segments grew 15 per cent and 11.5 per cent respectively but this was offset by the 26.1 per cent fall in the marine & offshore engineering segment. This segment remained weak with lower output in oilfield and gasfield equipment and ship building & repair jobs. For the whole of 2016, the cluster saw output fall 17.8 per cent.

The chemicals cluster's output rose 4.1 per cent in December but the higher output in the petrochemicals and petroleum segments was partly due to plant shutdowns in December 2015. For 2016, this cluster saw output decline 0.9 per cent.

The general manufacturing industries cluster saw production rise 2 per cent in December, mainly due to the 22.8 per cent growth in the food, beverages and tobacco segment. This was partly offset by declines in the miscellaneous industries (-10.6 per cent) and printing (-14.6 per cent) segments. For 2016, this cluster saw output drop 2.5 per cent.