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Singapore factory output posts 1.1% drop in February: EDB

SINGAPORE'S factory output fell in February after posting a surprise rise the month before, according to preliminary figures from the Economic Development Board (EDB) released on Thursday.

On a year-on-year basis, manufacturing output fell 1.1 per cent due to a contraction in the Republic's linchpin electronics cluster, even as other sectors posted increases.

Excluding biomedical manufacturing, output fell 2.5 per cent, as the medical technology and pharmaceuticals segments propped up the sector with 9.1 per cent and 5.3 per cent growth respectively, driven by higher export demand for medical devices and increased production of biological products.

On a seasonally adjusted month-on-month basis, manufacturing output dropped 22.3 per cent, falling to 17.9 per cent when biomedical manufacturing was excluded.

Output for Singapore's electronics cluster fell 17.3 per cent as most segments recorded a decline, save the electronic modules and components segment, which rose 14.9 per cent.

The general manufacturing cluster posted expansion to the tune of 16.1 per cent, with output growth recorded across all segments, including printing, and food, beverage and tobacco.

Transport engineering output rose 10.9 per cent, fuelled by a 17.9 per cent surge in aerospace production amid more repair and maintenance jobs from commercial airlines. The marine and offshore engineering segment grew 5.6 per cent, supported by more offshore projects. 

Meanwhile, precision engineering output expanded 26.2 per cent, with increases in both the machinery and systems segment as well as the precision modules and components segment, thanks to higher production of semiconductors, lifting and handling equipment, optical products, dies and moulds, and metal precision components. 

Propped up by increases seen in the specialties, petrochemicals and petroleum refining segments (11.5 per cent, 5.3 per cent and 3.2 per cent respectively), the chemicals cluster rose 5.2 per cent, despite a 2 per cent decline in output for the other chemicals segment.

On Thursday, Singapore downgraded its official growth forecast for 2020 to between -4 per cent and -1 per cent. This is a worse outlook from the -0.5 per cent to 1.5 per cent range the Ministry of Trade and Industry posted in February.