SINGAPORE – Singapore’s factory growth eased in August, on the back of a drop in biomedical manufacturing output, but still came in better than expected, according to data out on Friday (Sept 24).
Manufacturing output expanded 11.2 per cent year-on-year last month, down from a revised 16.4 per cent increase in July, but marking a 10th straight month of growth.
Analysts polled by Bloomberg had expected factory production to increase by 8.2 per cent.
Excluding biomedical manufacturing, output increased 13.6 per cent in August.
The key electronics sector saw output expand by 15.4 per cent. Apart from the computer peripherals and data storage segment, all segments recorded output growth.
In particular, the semiconductors segment grew 16.8 per cent, supported by demand from 5G markets, after eking out growth of just 1.4 per cent in July.
On a year-to-date basis, the electronics cluster grew 19.6 per cent compared with the same period in 2020.
The volatile biomedical manufacturing sector saw its output fall 0.6 per cent. While the medical technology segment rose 8.2 per cent on the back of higher export demand for medical devices, the pharmaceuticals segment declined 3.4 per cent due to a different mix of active pharmaceutical ingredients.
On a year-to-date basis, the biomedical manufacturing cluster still grew 9.8 per cent.
All other sectors posted year-on-year growth in August.
The transport engineering cluster saw expanded output of 23.5 per cent, with all segments recording growth.
The marine and offshore engineering segment rose 36.9 per cent, while the aerospace segment increased output by 22 per cent.
The Economic Development Board (EDB) said: “The levels of activity in the shipyards and aerospace firms had increased from a low base last year when new orders were impacted by the weak global oil and gas market and international travel restrictions respectively amid the Covid-19 pandemic.”
Cumulatively, the transport engineering cluster grew 4.7 per cent in the period lasting from January to August, compared with the same period last year.
Precision engineering output also grew, by 22.9 per cent in August. The cluster’s growth was largely attributed to the machinery and systems segment, which grew 33.1 per cent with higher output of semiconductor and industrial process equipment.
Overall, the precision engineering cluster grew 19.9 per cent in the first eight months of 2021.
Meanwhile, general manufacturing output climbed 6.2 per cent, with the miscellaneous industries segment growing 33.2 per cent from a low base last year, when demand for construction-related materials was adversely affected by Covid-19. Conversely, the food, beverage and tobacco segment fell 6 per cent, while the printing segment dropped 16.7 per cent, with lower production of milk powder due to weaker export demand.
In the first eight months of this year, output of the general manufacturing industries cluster grew 7.7 per cent, compared with the same period last year.
Chemicals output edged up by 0.4 per cent. The petroleum segment recorded an output growth of 22.1 per cent from the low production base a year ago due to lower export demand amid the Covid-19 outbreak.
But the specialties, petrochemicals and other chemicals segments contracted slightly. In particular, the petrochemicals recorded lower production due to plant maintenance shutdowns.
Overall, the chemicals cluster grew 9.2 per cent year on year from January to August this year.
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