SINGAPORE: Singapore’s manufacturing output rose 14.3 per cent year-on-year in December, beating estimates and bringing overall growth for 2020 to 7.3 per cent.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast an 11.5% increase in December.
December's industrial production was boosted by electronics, chemicals and precision engineering. Excluding biomedical manufacturing, output increased 19.8 per cent in December, the Economic Development Board (EDB) said on Tuesday (Jan 26).
The growth in December follows a revised 18.7 per cent expansion in November, instead of the 17.9 per cent previously reported.
On a seasonally adjusted month-on-month basis, manufacturing output increased 2.4 per cent in December. Economists had expected a 0.6 per cent contraction. Excluding biomedical manufacturing, output grew 8.2 per cent month-on-month.
Electronics manufacturing output soared 41.8 per cent in December compared to the same month in 2019, with a 51 per cent expansion in the semiconductor segment leading the charge, supported by 5G markets and helped by a low production base from a year before.
The computer peripherals and data storage segment also grew 9.3 per cent.
There was an 8.7 per cent decrease in output in the other electronic modules and components segment, however, as well as a 6.7 per cent decline in infocomms and consumer electronics.
Overall, the output of the electronics cluster grew by 11.9 per cent in 2020 compared to 2019.
In the chemicals cluster, production expanded by 12.3 per cent year-on-year in December, with all segments recording output growth except petroleum.
The petrochemicals and specialties segments grew by 17.9 per cent and 16.9 per cent respectively from a low base a year earlier attributed to plant maintenance shutdowns.
The other chemicals segment saw an increase of 14.1 per cent, boosted by higher production of fragrances.
The chemicals cluster’s output fell by 1 per cent overall in 2020, however.
Output also grew for precision engineering in December, up 11 per cent compared to a year ago.
The machinery and systems segment grew 12.6 per cent with higher output of semiconductor equipment and measuring devices.
The precision modules and components segment rose 6.3 per cent due to increased production of optical instrument and metal precision components.
Output in the precision engineering cluster expanded by 10.6 per cent overall in 2020.
The general manufacturing cluster also saw growth in December, with a 5.9 per cent increase in output year-on-year.
The food, beverage and tobacco segment was the best performer, growing by 13.6 per cent with higher production of beverage products and milk powder.
The printing segment also grew by 1.2 per cent but miscellaneous industries fell 0.3 per cent due to lower output of construction-related products.
General manufacturing contracted by 11.3 per cent overall in 2020.
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TRANSPORT ENGINEERING HIT HARD
Transport engineering was the hardest hit cluster of December and for 2020 overall, declining 31.5 per cent year-on-year last month and 25.7 per cent for the whole year compared to 2019.
Though the land segment grew by 4.2 per cent, aerospace contracted by 41.8 per cent and marine and offshore engineering fell 30.8 per cent in December. Activity remained low in aerospace firms and shipyards against the backdrop of COVID-19 travel restrictions and a weak global oil and gas market, EDB said.
Biomedical manufacturing output also took a hit in December, contracting by 13.2 per cent compared to the same period last year. This was largely due to a 22.8 per cent decline in the pharmaceuticals segment brought about by lower production of biological products.
The medical technology segment grew by 7.3 per cent, however, with higher export demand for medical devices.
Despite the year-end decline, biomedical manufacturing output still grew by 23.7 per cent in 2020.