Singapore factory output falls 7.7 pct: govt

SINGAPORE: Singapore said Monday that key industrial output during September fell 7.7 percent year on year as declines were posted across every sector.

The figure snapped two straight months of expansion and was worse than the average 1.1 percent fall tipped by a Dow Jones Newswires poll of analysts.

On a month-on-month seasonally adjusted basis, industrial output in September was down 9.1 percent from August, the Economic Development Board (EDB) said in its monthly report.

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 other parts of 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 such as the United States.

The precision engineering industry, which includes machinery and systems, posted the sharpest decline of 14.3 percent year-on-year, following a 12.1 percent fall in August, the EDB said.

Biomedical output shrank 13.9 percent after expanding 97.7 percent the previous month. The biomedical sector is highly volatile because plants are routinely closed for maintenance while output targets can vary due to different products being made.

In the electronics industry, output eased 1.1 percent, chemicals dropped 8.7 percent and transport engineering fell 8.1 percent, the EDB said.

Total manufacturing output for the January-September period was down 6.9 percent from a year ago.

Despite the poor data, recent figures suggest Singapore's economy was recovering from the slump with preliminary data released earlier this month showing 0.8 percent growth in the third quarter.

The government also upgraded its 2009 forecast to a contraction of 2.0-2.5 percent, smaller than the previous estimate of 4.0-6.0 percent shrinkage.

Dow Jones Newswires contributed to this story