Manufacturing Good News

Pharmaceuticals, recovering, are now up 5.1% despite dragging the entire manufacturing down by 8.2% a few months ago.  In 2009, the bulk of the layoffs were from manufacturing (59.0% or 13,400 people). With the recovery and an increase in global demand for Singapore’s exports, it might mean more jobs for lower income production line workers if they want to keep up the supply.  Whether it is 39.4% growth on-year or 11.4% growth comparing December and January, it is manufacturing good news. Read it the way you want it.

Singapore’s Jan manufacturing output up 39.4% on-year
26 February 2010 1700 hrs (SST)

SINGAPORE: Singapore’s manufacturing output continued to rise in January, trouncing economists’ expectations, mainly due to a low base and better external demand, particularly from regional countries.

Data released on Friday by the Economic Development Board (EDB) showed manufacturing output rose 39.4 per cent on-year, almost four times higher than economists’ expectations for a 10.3 per cent on-year increase.

This is also seen as the fastest pace of growth since records first began in 1983.

Compared to the previous month, output increased by 11.8 per cent, though it would have risen by just 0.8 per cent if biomedical manufacturing was excluded.

The largest increase came from the electronics cluster, which turned in a strong growth of 80.6 per cent in January year-on-year.

EDB said this was due to higher demand for chips used in consumer electronics, coupled with the low base last year when the global economic downturn depressed demand for electronics.

Output of the biomedical manufacturing cluster increased 48.4 per cent, with pharmaceuticals gaining 51.1 per cent on the back of higher production of active pharmaceutical ingredients.

Output of the general manufacturing industries increased by 20.2 per cent in January, with all segments within the cluster registering positive growth.

However, the transport engineering cluster declined by 13.4 per cent on-year, with all segments falling except the land transport segment.

Output of the aerospace segment inched down 0.9 per cent, while the marine and offshore engineering segment contracted 26.7 per cent on the back of a lower percentage of completion for marine and offshore projects and fewer ship conversion projects.

Analysts said the strong numbers suggest that global demand is picking up, which will be good news for the export-oriented economy.’

“I think the prognosis continues to be good because manufacturing in Singapore will be buffered by capacity additions this year,” said Leong Wai Ho, director and senior regional economist at Barclays Capital.

“We’ve just seen Shell introduce its S$3 billion dollar plant in Jurong Island, and we are likely to see more capacity additions, in the pharma sector namely in the biologics base.

“I think this reflects the pattern of recovery we’re seeing across Asia, but it seems to us that this path of recovery will be a rather uneven recovery.”

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