Singapore Manufacturing Output Falls Sharply

Output in Singapore's key manufacturing sector went into a dramatic and totally unexpected reverse in February, falling 10.2% from a year earlier as pharmaceuticals and electronics production tumbled, official figures showed on March 28.

Analysts had expected February output to expand 4.0-10% and said the actual outcome could make it harder for the city-state to achieve a projected March quarter gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 4.7%.

The manufacturing sector, which accounts for a quarter of Singapore's trade-reliant economy, had grown 9.9% in January. For the first two months of 2005, output was up just 0.5% from the same period last year. The Economic Development Board (EDB) attributed February's figures to fewer working days during this year's Lunar New Year holidays.

The pharmaceuticals sector plunged 63.6% after a nearly 11% drop in January.

The EDB said the decline was due to a different product mix and the production of some products being rescheduled to the later part of the year. The electronics cluster contracted 2.4% in February but the decline was more pronounced in computer peripherals where production plunged 21.4%. This is double the 11.4% fall in January. Semiconductors dropped nearly 3.0%, while data storage was down 9.1%. Information and communications products saved the day for the sector by rising 41.6%.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2005

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