Sharp drop in electronics worsens Singapore August factory output

Business | 26 Sep 2019 3:49 pm

Singapore’s factory output plunged in August by the most in almost four years, a sign that the island's manufacturing downturn could be deepening.

Industrial production dropped by 8 percent from a year earlier, the weakest since December 2015 and worse than all the forecasts in a Bloomberg survey of economists. It shrank by7.5 percent on a seasonally adjusted monthly basis, the Economic Development Board said in a statement today.

Electronics was the biggest culprit for the downturn, plunging by 24.4 percent in August from a year ago, the worst reading for that industry since the start of 2012.

The data storage and infocomms and consumer electronics segments grew by 25 percent and 6.3 percent respectively, while the rest of the electronic segments recorded a contraction in output. 

Precision engineering output fell by 13.6 percent year-on-year, with both segments recording lower output. The machinery and systems segment contracted 11.9 per cent with lower output of refrigeration systems and semiconductor equipment, Channel News Asia reported, citing the EDB. 

The precision modules and components segment declined by 15.9 percent on the back of lower production of optical products and metal precision components.Meanwhile, transport engineering, general manufacturing, chemicals and biomedical manufacturing all registered year-on-year growth.

Biomedical manufacturing output expanded 10.6 per cent in August, with the pharmaceutical segment growing 13.3 per cent with higher production of active pharmaceutical ingredients, while the medical technology segment rose 2.3 per cent on the back of higher export demand for medical devices.

General manufacturing output increased 5.8 per cent in August on a year-on-year basis, with the food, beverages and tobacco segment expanding 10.5 per cent, on account of higher output of milk powder and beverage products.


The miscellaneous industries segment grew 2.6 per cent with higher production of metal tanks and containers as well as wearing apparel. However printing output declined 4.9 per cent.

Chemicals output increased 2.7 per cent year-on-year. The other chemicals segments expanded 19.1 per cent, on account of higher output in fragrances. 

The petrochemicals, specialties and petroleum segments contracted by 0.7 percent, 4.7 percent and 13 percent respectively, with the petroleum throughput affected by maintenance shutdowns in some plants. 

Transport engineering output was 0.5 percent higher in August compared to a year ago.

The land and aerospace segments grew by 10.9 percent and 10.5 percent respectively, with the latter registering more repair and maintenance jobs from commercial airlines, EDB said.

"On the other hand, the marine and offshore engineering segment fell 11.5 percent, on account of lower levels of offshore and shipbuilding and repairing activities," the board added.

The surprisingly intense weakening is a fresh blow for growth prospects in trade-reliant Singapore after last month’s data had given economists hope that the pain could be easing.-Bloomberg/The Standard


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