Singapore May Manufacturing Output Falls 2.3%

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The FINANCIAL — Singapore’s manufacturing output declined in May as the export-dependent nation continued to face sluggish external demand and as production fell in its highly volatile pharmaceutical sector, according to Nasdaq.

Manufacturing output declined 2.3% year-over-year in May, compared with a downward revised 9.1% fall in April, according to preliminary data released by the Economic Development Board on June 26. The decline was nearly in line with a 2.1% drop predicted by seven analysts in a Dow Jones Newswires poll.

Measured on a seasonally adjusted basis, manufacturing output rose 2.4% in May from April, compared with a revised 6.6% fall in April-over-March. Analysts in the poll had predicted a 1.1% month-over-month fall.

Electronics output, which accounts for a third of total production, fell 0.2% in May, reversing a 0.2% increase in April.

Production in the pharmaceutical segment fell 10.3% from a year earlier, compared with a 38.1% fall in April. Production in the biomedical sector fell 2.6% year-over-year in May as a strong 34.6% rise in medical technology products helped offset the decline in pharmaceutical drugs.

Singapore’s pharmaceutical production is dominated by a small number of multinational firms that have large factories in the country. The production of high-value medicines, such as a batch of cancer drugs, can send production values soaring in a month. Production can also sometimes plunge as plants close or undergo long periods of maintenance in between batches of different drugs.

Excluding biomedical manufacturing, output fell 2.2% year-over-year in May, the same pace as in April, the data showed.

Production in transport engineering, another volatile sector, fell 8.1% from a year earlier in May, compared with a revised 8.9% decline in April. Production in the marine-and-offshore engineering segment fell 5.2% from a year earlier in May, compared with a 10.7% fall in the previous month, while the aerospace industry posted a 13.2% drop in production in the month.

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