Semicon output boosts Singapore’s manufacturing sector

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The electronics sector took a hit in May, but that was offset by increases in the semiconductor and other electronic modules and components segment.

Singapore's manufacturing output is inching upwards, thanks to strong growth in the semiconductor and pharmaceutical segments.

Factory output has grown by 0.9% year-on-year in May, compared with April's 2.9%, according to figures released by the Economic Development Board (EDB).

The electronics sector took a hit in May, with its growth slowing to 5.9%, but that was offset by increases in the semiconductor and other electronic modules and components segment, which rose by 16.6% and 9.2% respectively.

Cumulatively, electronics cluster output grew 5.3% in the first five months of 2016 compared to the same period last year, EDB stated.

Meanwhile, output of the precision engineering cluster decreased 1.0% year-on-year in May. The machinery and systems segment grew 3.3% with higher export demand for semiconductor related equipment, as well as higher volume of mechanical engineering works.

The precision modules and components segment, however, contracted 7.3% per cent, on account of lower output in metal precision components, optical instruments and fabricated metal products. On a year-to-date basis, output of the precision engineering cluster declined 5.0% compared to the same period last year.

The biomedical manufacturing cluster’s output also jumped 13.2% year-on-year in May. The pharmaceuticals and medical technology segments grew 14.2% and 9.2% respectively, where the former’s growth was due to a different mix of active pharmaceutical ingredients produced. Strong export demand for medical devices continued to drive the growth of the medical technology segment.

On a year-to-date basis, the biomedical manufacturing cluster increased 17.3% compared to the same period a year ago.

There's a possibility, however, that Singapore's positive momentum will be nipped in the bud by Britain's unexpected Brexit vote. CIMB Banking economist Song Seng Wun told Today Online: "If not for the Brexit, we would actually see light in Singapore for the manufacturing sector due to a turnaround led by biomedicals. With Brexit, the positive reading is pushed down as uncertainty lurks and there is a possibility of lower demand coming from the European Union."

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