Singapore factory output in February rebounds sharply to 17.6%, highest level in 8 months

SINGAPORE’S factory output rebounded sharply in February to its highest level in 8 months after a brief slowdown in January threatened to throw the growth trajectory off course.

Industrial output jumped 17.6 per cent year on year in February from the previous month’s 2.4 per cent on the back of a surge in electronics and biomedical production, according to data from the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) on Friday (Mar 25).

Excluding the typically volatile biomedical cluster, output grew 16.8 per cent year on year.

Sequentially, overall manufacturing output rose 16.6 per cent in February, while the figure is 12.3 per cent excluding biomedical production.

Electronics output leapt 32.4 per cent year on year in February as all segments grew, vastly improving from the 1 per cent growth in the previous month.

In particular, the semiconductors segment expanded 39.4 per cent, supported by strong demand from 5G markets and data centres amid the global chip shortage, EDB noted.

Biomedical production rose 25.3 per cent year on year, reversing the 8.8 per cent contraction in January.

Pharmaceuticals output surged 46.7 per cent with a higher production of biological products and a different mix of active pharmaceutical ingredients, while the medical technology segment expanded 5.8 per cent with higher export demand for medical devices, EDB said.

Other sectors, however, saw production levels ease in February.

General manufacturing output rose 12.6 per cent year on year, easing from the 16.2 per cent expansion in January.

The food, beverage and tobacco segment grew 12.8 per cent with a higher output of beverage and milk products.

Transport engineering output grew 4.5 per cent year on year in February, slowing down from 14.7 per cent in the previous month.

Growth was lifted by the aerospace segment’s 11.3 per cent expansion, due to higher levels of maintenance, repair and overhaul activities from commercial airlines on the eve of a global travel recovery compared with a year ago.

Precision engineering production grew just 1 per cent year on year, a fraction of January’s 11.2 per cent expansion.

This was because growth in the machinery and systems segment could not offset the contraction of the precision modules and components segment.

Chemicals production fell 2.7 per cent year on year in February, extending the previous month’s 2.2 per cent contraction.

The petroleum refining throughput rose 14.8 per cent due to last year’s low base but was not enough to offset the drop in production in the specialties, petrochemicals and other chemicals segments.