Singapore's factory activity plunges 22.3% in February from previous month amid COVID-19 outbreak

Singapore's factory activity plunges 22.3% in February from previous month amid COVID-19 outbreak

Factory activity in Singapore plunged more than 20 per cent in February from the previous month amid a deepening global coronavirus outbreak, adding to a grim economic outlook for the trade-reliant hub. Chloe Choo reports. 

SINGAPORE: Factory activity in Singapore plunged more than 20 per cent in February from the previous month amid a deepening global coronavirus outbreak, adding to a grim economic outlook for the trade-reliant hub.

On a seasonally adjusted month-on-month basis, manufacturing output fell 22.3 per cent in February, according to data released by the Economic Development Board (EDB) on Thursday (Mar 26).

That is the biggest contraction in official records going back to 1983, according to Reuters, and compares with an 18.7 per cent increase in January.

Excluding biomedical manufacturing, output fell 17.9 per cent on a seasonally adjusted month-on-month basis.

On a year-on-year basis, industrial production contracted 1.1 per cent in February, compared with a 3.5 per cent expansion the previous month. Excluding biomedical manufacturing, output fell 2.5 per cent.

Global supply chains have been affected by lockdowns imposed by governments in their attempt to stem the coronavirus outbreak.

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The factory data added to grim data released on Thursday morning that showed the Singapore economy shrinking by 2.2 per cent year-on-year in the first quarter.

Analysts have downgraded their full-year gross domestic product forecasts for Singapore this year and said they expect a recession.

The key electronics cluster posted the largest and only contraction at -17.3 per cent. Semiconductors was hit the worst, declining 18.7 per cent, while computer peripherals and data storage fell 17.4 per cent.

The biomedical manufacturing  cluster expanded 6.4 per cent, with medical technology production going up by 9.1 per cent, and pharmaceuticals output increasing 5.3 per cent.

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Output for precision engineering expanded 26.2 per cent in February from a year back, when production was low partly due to the Chinese New Year holidays, said EDB. The annual holiday fell on Jan 25 and Jan 26 this year.

Similarly, general manufacturing output increased 16.1 per cent in February this year because of fewer production days during the Chinese New Year holiday last year.

Transport engineering output expanded by 10.9 per cent, supported by higher levels of repair and maintenance activihties from commercial airlines, as well as work done in offshore projects.

Chemicals output grew 5.2 per cent year-on-year in February.

The next monthly manufacturing performance data will be released on Apr 24. 

Commentary: COVID-19 outbreak has overworked some but left more with little to do

Source: CNA/jt(aj)

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