Singapore Manufacturing Output Rebounds After Dramatic Fall

Singapore's March manufacturing output grew 8.3% from a year earlier as stronger electronics production led industry out of an unexpected slump, government figures showed April 26. The manufacturing sector is the lynchpin of the Singapore economy, accounting for almost a quarter of annual gross domestic product of 160 billion Singapore dollars ($97 billion).

All sectors except for precision engineering showed gains in output, with pharmaceuticals as well as electronics turning around from big falls in February. For the first quarter to March, total manufacturing output was up 3.1% from a year ago. The figures were dragged down by a surprise fall of 10.8% in February, revised from an original drop of 10.2 %. Last month's performance was in line with economists' expectations of an 8.3-8.8% in industrial output. However, the Economic Development Board (EDB) said that, on a monthly basis, manufacturing output still contracted by 1.7% in March.

The electronics industry is the largest component in the manufacturing sector and makes up more than half of Singapore's key non-oil domestic exports to the world's major economies. For March alone, the electronics cluster grew 19% year-on-year, reversing a decline of 3.7% in February, boosted by strong growth in the data storage, and infocomms (information communications) and consumer electronics segments. The EDB said production of disk drives expanded 57% while strong output of mobile personal computers and handsets were the main drivers of a 74.7% rise in infocomms and consumer electronics. The traditionally volatile biomedical manufacturing cluster rose 1.1% in March after a decline of 52% in February. The pharmaceuticals segment alone grew 1.5% year-on-year in March following a 63.6% fall.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2005

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