Singapore's Factory Output Rises 12.3%

The biomedical industry was the main driver for the surge in industrial output with an expansion of 97.8% from a year ago.

In its second straight monthly expansion amid signs the city-state was recovering from a recession, Singapore's industrial output rose 12.3% on the year in August.

The biomedical industry was the main driver for the surge in industrial output with an expansion of 97.8% from a year ago, boosted by robust production of pharmaceuticals which rose 108%, the Economic Development Board (EDB) said.

The strong showing from the highly volatile biomedical sector cushioned declines in other industries, including electronics which dropped 6.4% on the year in August, it said.

However, the fall in the electronics sector was at a slower pace than recent months, said analysts. "If you look at the overall trend, things are less bad," CIMB-GK Economist Song Seng Wun said. "The electronics sector is now holding on to single-digit contraction from what it was previously." Electronics output declined 19.2% in June.

For the other industries, chemicals output slumped 4.5% on-year, precision engineering was down 12.7% and transport engineering sank 2.5%.

Excluding the biomedical sector, industrial output fell 6.1%, the EDB data showed.

Singapore's monthly industrial output data is one of the most widely monitored economic indicators as the manufacturing sector accounts for almost a quarter of economic activity.

The sector, like its counterparts elsewhere in Asia, has been hit by the global slowdown as most of its output is either shipped as components to be assembled elsewhere or exported as final goods to key markets like the United States.

However, signs have emerged that Singapore is recovering from a recession, with government data showing that exports fell at a slower pace in August.

The government expects the economy to shrink 4%-6% this year, which would be its worst performance since gaining independence in 1965. The economy grew 1.1% in 2008.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009

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