Singapore industrial output drop eases

SINGAPORE: Singapore said on Tuesday that manufacturing output declined at a much slower pace in April, helped by a strong turnaround in the biomedical industry.

And on a seasonally adjusted month-on-month basis, output rose 24.7 percent compared with a 13.9 percent drop in March, the Economic Development Board (EDB) said.

Total manufacturing output for April fell 0.5 percent from a year ago, a sharp improvement from the revised 32.8 percent contraction recorded a month before, according to the EDB.

It was also much better than a Dow Jones Newswires poll of analysts who had forecast an average 17.1 percent decline.

The figures represent the seventh straight month of decline in output, a trend that started in the third quarter of 2008 when Singapore slid into recession as export orders dried up amid the global downturn.

Biomedical industry output expanded 68.4 percent year-on-year, reversing a 52.3 percent plunge in March as pharmaceutical plants ramped up a greater variety of ingredients and production, the EDB said.

Pharmaceuticals output was up almost 78 percent in April from a year ago, it said.

Transport engineering, which includes ship repair and conversion, saw 14.8 percent growth compared with a mere 0.4 percent rise in March.

Electronics output declined 24.2 percent year on year, compared with a 34.4 percent drop in March.

Singapore's manufacturing sector is the backbone of its trade-led economy, with the bulk ending up as shipments to the world's major markets such as the United States and other industrialised nations.

However, the financial storm that whipped the global economy last year has seen Singapore's economy badly hit as global demand dwindled.

The economy is tipped to shrink 6.0-9.0 percent this year, which would be its worst since gaining statehood in 1965. The economy grew 1.1 percent last year.