S’pore production falls more-than-expected 33.9%

April 24, 2009
Singapore Democrats

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Bloomberg

Singapore’s industrial production fell the most in at least 13 years in March as electronics manufacturers cut output amid declining orders and some factories shut down for maintenance.

Manufacturing, which accounts for about a quarter of Singapore’s economy, dropped 33.9 percent from a year earlier following a revised 15.1 percent decline in February, the Economic Development Board said today.

That was the biggest fall since February 1996, when Bloomberg data began, and compares with the 24 percent plunge expected in a Bloomberg News survey.

The worst global recession since World War II has led to an 11-month slump in Singapore exports, forcing companies including Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing Ltd. to fire workers and prompting the government to cut taxes and subsidize jobs. The trade ministry said last week the economy may contract as much as 9 percent this year, the most since independence in 1965.

“We haven’t seen the bottom yet and the numbers are likely to remain bad this quarter,” said Takayuki Urade, head of Asia economics at Nomura Holdings Inc. in Singapore. “Final demand from the U.S. is still weak.”

Industrial production fell a seasonally adjusted 13.9 percent in March from the previous month, today’s report showed.

Singapore’s manufacturing slid 26.1 percent in the three months ended March, less than the 29 percent decline estimated by the government on April 14.

Underperformer

“There remains a nagging worry that the Singapore economy is continuing to underperform its Asian neighbors,” Robert Prior-Wandesforde, an economist at HSBC Holdings Plc in Singapore, said in a note after the data release. Singapore’s economy shrank an annualized 19.7 percent last quarter, while South Korea’s unexpectedly expanded.

Electronics production plunged 34.6 percent from a year earlier last month, following a revised 38.2 percent decline in February. Electronics make up about 26 percent of total manufacturing output.

Pharmaceutical production, which accounts for about 20 percent of Singapore’s manufacturing, fell 57.3 percent.

The contraction in biomedical manufacturing was “due mainly to a different mix of active pharmaceutical ingredients produced,” the government said in today’s statement. Output in chemicals, including petroleum and petrochemicals, was also affected by maintenance shutdowns, it said.

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