April 26, 2018 / 6:03 AM / 25 days ago

Singapore March factory output up 5.9 percent, electronics solid

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Singapore’s industrial production grew slightly more than expected in March from a year earlier as electronics output continued to show strong growth, data showed on Thursday.

Employees are seen by their workstations at a printed circuit board assembly factory in Singapore June 28, 2016. REUTERS/Edgar Su

Manufacturing output in March rose 5.9 percent from a year earlier, data from the Singapore Economic Development Board showed, after rising a revised 6.7 percent in February.

The median forecast in a Reuters survey predicted a 5.4 percent expansion.

Electronics output grew 12.4 percent in March from a year earlier, the third consecutive month of double-digit growth, but slowed slightly from the revised 17.9 percent increase in February.

Singapore exports posted a surprise fall in March as electronics exports fell for the fourth consecutive month, pointing to slowdown for Singapore factories in the coming months.

“Both exports and manufacturing output are pointing to a slowdown,” said UOB economist Francis Tan.

“We think electronics will continue to slow down. Some of the new smartphones were driving up semiconductors last year. Without the visibility of new phone models coming up, demand may not be as strong as last year,” Tan said.

On a month-on-month and seasonally adjusted basis, industrial production rose 0.3 percent in March after contracting a revised 2.6 percent in the month before. The median forecast was for an expansion of 0.5 percent.

Singapore, along with other trade-reliant economies in Asia, has got a boost from strong global demand in 2017, particularly for electronics products and components such as semiconductors.

Singapore’s full-year economic growth hit a 3-year high in 2017, thanks to its electronics production. The Monetary Authority of Singapore tightened policy for the first time in six years at its semiannual meeting earlier this month.

Reporting by Fathin Ungku; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier

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