Singapore Factory Output Rise an Unexpected 2.4%

Biomedical output grew an annual 38.2% last month, reversing a 34.5% plunge in the previous month.

Lifted by a double-digit expansion in biomedicals, Singapore's manufacturing output posted an unexpected rise of 2.4% in September from a year ago, the government said on Oct. 24.

The increase snapped two straight months of contraction in the key sector, which accounts for almost a quarter of the city-state's gross domestic product valued at 243.17 billion Singapore dollars (US$163 million) in 2007.

On a seasonally adjusted month-on-month basis, manufacturing output expanded 7%, the Economic Development Board (EDB) said in its monthly report.

Biomedical output grew an annual 38.2% last month, reversing a 34.5% plunge in the previous month, held up by a solid showing from the pharmaceuticals sector. Pharmaceuticals grew 44.4% from last year "on the back of a different mix of active pharmaceutical ingredients," the EDB said.

Chemicals grew 3.1%, transport engineering expanded 10.3% while general manufacturing industries increased 4.3%.. For transport engineering, the sector was aided by an 18.7% expansion in marine and offshore engineering due to increased rig building and other offshore related activities.

Electronics contracted for a second straight month, with output down 14.6% in September while precision engineering fell 2.9%.

For the nine months to September, overall manufacturing output fell 1.9% over the same period in 2007.

Despite the surprise jump in September production, Singapore's economy still faces the likelihood of a prolonged downturn because of its huge dependence on external trade, said analysts. Singapore is in a technical recession after posting two consecutive quarters of GDP contraction, and the government has cut its 2008 growth targets to 3% from 4%-5%.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2008

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