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