Singapore manufacturing output growth accelerates to 11.1% in May

A worker at semiconductor giant, Infineon, placing integrated circuit packages onto boards before they are sent for further testing or storage.
A worker at semiconductor giant, Infineon, placing integrated circuit packages onto boards before they are sent for further testing or storage.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - Singapore's factory production continued to outperform in May, defying expectations that the manufacturing sector will cool.

Overall output grew by 11.1 per cent last month from a year ago, according to data from the Economic Development Board (EDB) on Tuesday (June 26).

This beat April's growth of 9.1 per cent and also came in higher than economists' expectations of a 9 per cent increase.

Excluding the biomedical manufacturing cluster, output grew 9.8 per cent year on year.

This time round, growth was not across the board as it was in April, but the key electronics cluster continued as a strong driver for the sector with output expanding 17.1 per cent. Semiconductors were again outstanding, posting robust growth of 26.9 per cent, up from 15 per cent in April, while the rest of the electronic segments registered a fall in output.

May's factory scorecard was also helped by the stronger rebound in the volatile biomedical sector, which expanded by 17.7 per cent, up from 8.2 per cent growth in April and two consecutive months of decline before that. General manufacturing also picked up with a 5.2 per cent growth in output from 2.8 per cent in April.

Chemicals output growth was lower at 8.6 per cent from 12.5 per cent the previous month, while precision engineering output dropped to 0.8 per cent from 7 per cent in April. Growth in the transport engineering segment slowed to 3.0 per cent from 9.6 per cent on a 15.1 per cent fall in land transport output.

Analysts have been expecting  electronics manufacturing to slow this year, not just because of a high base last year, but also due to shipments of electronics flattening out and the cloud of  more protectionist policies from the US and growing trade friction.

On a month-on-month basis, manufacturing output increased by 0.4 per cent from May 2017. Excluding biomedical manufacturing, output fell 1.2 per cent.