Singapore Factory Output Falls in November

Large drop in biomedical production

As expected by analysts, Singapore's factory output fell in November, mainly on hefty drops in biomedical production, government figures showed Dec. 26. Last month's 1.5% decline in manufacturing output, compared with a year earlier, was at the low end of analysts' forecasts for a contraction of between 1% and 5.3%.

The annual drop was caused mainly by a 33.4% contraction in the biomedical sector which, alongside electronics, has emerged as a key pillar for manufacturing. Made up of pharmaceuticals and medical technology products, the biomedical sector was weighed down by a 35.6% fall in drug output and a 15% drop in medical-related production, the board said. Lower production of certain key drug ingredients was to blame for the sharp drop in pharmaceutical activity last month, it added.

Singapore is a major base for the manufacture of active pharmaceutical ingredients used in a wide array of medicines worldwide.

Other industries that contracted last month included precision engineering, which fell 0.3%, and general manufacturing industries which eased 0.2%, the board said.

In the other manufacturing sectors, electronic output rose 5.3%, chemicals was up 3.4% and transport engineering expanded 31.9%, boosted by the booming marine and offshore engineering cluster which grew 53.5%.

Manufacturing is a closely-watched indicator of the Singapore economy's performance because it accounts for a quarter of total economic output, which was valued at 210 billion dollars (US$145 billion) at the end of 2006.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2007

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