Singapore’s factory output shrinks 0.8% in October on steep fall in biomedical manufacturing

SINGAPORE’S factory output contracted 0.8 per cent year on year in October, a reversal from the previous month’s gains of 1.6 per cent, according to data from an Economic Development Board (EDB) release on Friday (Nov 25).

But excluding the typically volatile biomedical cluster, factory output grew 1.9 per cent, though this was slower than the revised 3 per cent recorded in September.

Biomedical manufacturing saw the biggest declines in October, tumbling 14.5 per cent year on year and extending the previous month’s 1.4 per cent contraction. The cluster was dragged down by declines in the pharmaceuticals segment, which shrank 27.1 per cent due to a different mix of active pharmaceutical ingredients being produced compared to a year ago.

Output also fell year on year in October for the electronics and chemicals clusters. Electronics shrank 0.7 per cent, against a 5.7 per cent contraction previously, while chemicals fell 9.7 per cent, from a 7.2 per cent decline in September.

Meanwhile, precision engineering was the star performer of the month, expanding 18.6 per cent, against 7.2 per cent previously. October’s gains were led by the machinery and systems segment, which grew 24.7 per cent on account of higher output of semiconductor foundry equipment.

Also seeing growth was the transport engineering cluster, which was up 6.3 per cent in October, though this was much slower than the 38.8 per cent growth recorded in the previous month. It was dragged down by declines in the offshore engineering and land segments.

General manufacturing was the only cluster which output remained unchanged year on year in October. Gains recorded in the food, beverage and tobacco and printing segments were offset by declines in the miscellaneous industries segment.

On a seasonally adjusted, monthly basis, manufacturing output rose 0.9 per cent, while the figure was unchanged excluding biomedical manufacturing.