Singapore Factory Output up 16.9%

Production in the biomedicals sector, which covers pharmaceuticals and medical technology equipment, climbed 98.1% compared with the same month last year.

Powered by stronger production of pharmaceuticals, Singapore's factory output rose 16.9% in March from a year earlier, the government said April 25. The performance beat economists' average forecast of 11% output growth in Southeast Asia's most advanced economy.

Production in the biomedicals sector, which covers pharmaceuticals and medical technology equipment, climbed 98.1% compared with the same month last year, the Economic Development Board (EDB) said. Drug manufacturers raised output by 108.4% as they produced a greater variety of active pharmaceutical ingredients.

Output for the key electronics cluster fell 4.1% in March after growing 13.6% in February. Production was weighed down by a decline in the manufacture of semiconductors and consumer electronics, partly because global demand eased.

Output for the aerospace segment shrank 2.2% due to the lower number of repairs for bigger commercial aircraft, the EDB said. Output for the transport engineering sector, which covers both offshore and marine and aerospace, grew 6.7%. Production in the chemicals cluster dipped 3%, partly because of the shutdown of some petrochemical plants for maintenance.

Singapore's economy expanded 7.7% in 2007 but the trade ministry foresees a slower pace of 4%-6% this year because of increased risks from the slowdown in the U.S., a major buyer of the country's exports.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2008

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