Factory output contracts less than expected in March as pharmaceuticals outperform

Biomedical manufacturing output expands 23.1 percent in March 2016, compared to the same period a year ago.

Singapore's manufacturing output dropped 0.5 percent in March 2016 but the decline was less than expected.

Output from the pharmaceuticals sector showed a surge, propping up the overall factory output numbers. Excluding biomedical manufacturing, Singapore's manufacturing output fell 5.5 percent compared with a year ago, data showed.

A survey of 19 economists by Bloomberg had predicted a 2 percent fall year-on-year. The median forecast in a Reuters survey was for a drop of 2.7 percent.

On a month-on-month and seasonally adjusted basis, factory output rose 1.0 percent in March, data from the Singapore Economic Development Board showed.

The biomedical manufacturing cluster's output expanded 23.1 percent in March 2016, compared to the same period a year ago.

The pharmaceuticals segment expanded 27.9 percent and output of the medical technology segment increased 9.4 percent.

On a year-to-date basis, the biomedical manufacturing cluster increased 19.4 percent compared to the same period a year ago.

While output of the electronics cluster rose 5.8 percent, the semiconductors segment's output grew 21.7 percent.

The biggest drop in manufacturing output was recorded in the transport engineering cluster, which fell 23.1 percent year-on-year in March.

Other major output contractions were reported in the chemicals cluster's where output dropped 4.9 percent on a year-on-year basis in March and in the precision engineering cluster that fell 7.7 percent.