May 27, 2014

    Biomed saves the day for manufacturing

    SINGAPORE'S manufacturing sector expanded at a faster pace of 4.6 per cent than expected last month, compared to a year ago.

    Growth was driven by biomedical manufacturing output, which helped to offset a contraction in the electronics sector.

    Economists polled by Bloomberg before the Economic Development Board (EDB) released the numbers yesterday had been expecting industrial production to rise by 4.3 per cent.

    Excluding the volatile biomedical sector - which, with an expansion of 23.8 per cent, was the main driver of growth - output would have fallen 0.7 per cent year-on-year.

    The electronics cluster proved to be the biggest drag on manufacturing output; electronics production fell 8.8 per cent year-on-year. Output of the key semiconductors segment dropped 11 per cent, with the EDB attributing this to "firm-specific factor".

    Electronics' data storage segment also declined 24.4 per cent with weaker export demand.

    EDB said that after adjusting for seasonal factors, industrial production decreased 4.7 per cent month-on-month in April. Excluding biomedical manufacturing, output would have fallen by a larger 7.3 per cent.

    The contraction was larger than private-sector economists had forecast - they had been expecting industrial production to fall 4.3 per cent in April from March, on a seasonally adjusted basis.