Singapore factory output surges at fastest pace in nine years on pharma boost

FILE PHOTO: An employee checks readings at a laboratory in a pharmaceutical manufacturing factory in Singapore April 17, 2017. REUTERS/Edgar Su/File photo

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Singapore’s industrial output blew past forecasts to rise 24.2% year-on-year in September, its fastest pace in nine years, boosted by pharmaceutical manufacturing more than doubling last month, official data showed on Monday.

Economists had expected a 2.5% increase, according to the median of their forecasts in a Reuters poll. The climb was the biggest since December 2011 and marked the second straight increase in monthly manufacturing after revised 15.4% jump in August.

“Looks like manufacturing will be the key driver and silver lining for the Singapore recovery story in the short term,” said Selena Ling, head of treasury research and strategy at OCBC Bank.

Pharmaceutical manufacturing, which is known to be volatile, grew 113.6% on-year, with higher output of active pharmaceutical ingredients and biological products. Electronics output grew 30.1% led by the semiconductors segment.

On a month-on-month and seasonally adjusted basis, industrial production increased 10.1% in September, data from the Singapore Economic Development Board showed. Economists had expected a 7.8% decline.

Brian Tan, regional economist at Barclays, said although electronics sector should continue to hold up, the “fairly robust numbers are unsustainable for a prolonged period.”

Singapore, whose small and open economy has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, expects its full-year gross domestic product (GDP) to shrink 5%-7%.

Editing by Aradhana Aravindan and Rashmi Aich