Singapore factory output falls 3.2% in November, worse than expected, as electronics slump

SINGAPORE – Singapore’s manufacturing output shrank at a faster rate in November, down 3.2 per cent from a year earlier, according to data released by the Economic Development Board on Friday.

The figure was worse than the 1.1 per cent drop economists had forecast in a Bloomberg poll.

The fall in November extended the decline in October when manufacturing output contracted by a revised 0.9 per cent, snapping a year of growth.

Excluding volatile biomedical manufacturing, output fell 4.8 per cent year on year.

In November, the declines were led by electronic output, which shrank a further 12.4 per cent from a year earlier on the back of softening demand.

Electronics account for 40 per cent of Singapore’s export-driven manufacturing sector and thus are key to economic growth.

Singapore’s semiconductor output – which accounts for 80 per cent of electronic manufacturing – weighed on output, falling 14 per cent, reversing a 1.2 per cent gain in October.

Singapore supplies 11 per cent of the world’s semiconductors and 20 per cent of chipmaking equipment.

Output for other electronic modules and components tumbled 21.6 per cent, while the infocomms and consumer electronics segment declined 12.1 per cent

Only computer peripherals and data storage within the electronic industry reversed declines to expand 9.3 per cent.

Pharmaceuticals, which declined 29.3 per cent in October, reversed course to grow 14.1 per cent, owing to a different mix of active ingredients produced.

As a whole, the notoriously volatile biomedical manufacturing sector saw output increase by 6.9 per cent in November, after a slump of 16.4 per cent in October.

Transport engineering was a bright spot as output grew 18.8 per cent in November, following on from 6.9 per cent growth in October.

The aerospace segment soared 26.2 per cent as there were more maintenance, repair and overhaul jobs from commercial airlines as global air traffic picked up.

The marine and offshore engineering segment reversed the 1.8 per cent decline in October to grow 16.6 per cent in November, as there was more work done on offshore conversion projects as well as increased production of oil and gas field equipment.

In other segments, precision engineering recorded a 4.2 per cent increase in output in November

The machinery and systems segment expanded 10 per cent, owing to higher output of semiconductor foundry equipment.

The precision modules and components segment declined 7.6 per cent, weighed down by lower production of optical products, electronic connectors and bonding wire.

Chemical output, however, fell 11.3 per cent in November 2022, as the output of the segments for other chemicals and specialities declined.

The other-chemicals segment fell owing to lower production of fragrances, while the specialities segment dropped on the back of lower production of mineral oil additives and industrial gases

Within chemicals, the petroleum segment grew 7.8 per cent because of higher demand for jet fuel as global air travel resumed, while output in the petrochemicals segment fell 17.5 per cent because of weak market demand and shutdowns of plants for maintenance.

On a seasonally adjusted month-on-month basis, manufacturing output decreased 1.2 per cent in November.

Excluding biomedical manufacturing, output decreased 6 per cent.