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Boom time for electronics

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Manufacturing resurgence continues with jump in electronics output

Singapore's manufacturing resurgence continued for the ninth straight month last month with another forecast-beating effort.

Factory output grew 6.7 per cent last month from a year earlier as star performer electronics - especially semiconductors - extended the sector's streak.

Manufacturing - which makes up one-fifth of the economy - was led by a 48 per cent jump in electronics output year on year. The semiconductors segment rose 69.1 per cent, the Economic Development Board (EDB) said on Friday (May 26).

"The electronics cluster is booming - with the semiconductor segment now entering its 14th consecutive month of double-digit expansion - and recording the highest level of production to date in April," Maybank Kim Eng economist Chua Hak Bin noted.

Except for data storage, he said, computer peripherals, consumer electronics and other electronic modules all grew at a faster pace than in March.

Precision engineering remains a bright spot, jumping 15.7 per cent as machinery and systems output benefited from higher semiconductor demand, Mr Chua said.

Still, last month's factory output growth was slower than the 11 per cent in March.

ANZ Research economist Ng Weiwen said industrial production has been "firing on a single engine".

"The strength of manufacturing output has been narrowly focused on electronics, particularly semiconductors, while the other manufacturing clusters registered either a slower pace of growth or contracted," he said.

The electronics cluster is booming... and recording the highest level of production to date in April. Maybank Kim Eng economist Chua Hak Bin

The tech cluster has been instrumental in the manufacturing rally, but there are concerns about consumer demand waning later this year, said DBS senior economist Irvin Seah.

"Tighter credit conditions and stiffer regulations on the property market in China could weigh on consumer sentiments and indirectly on Singapore's electronics components exports. A difficult Brexit could be another risk factor," he warned.

Transport engineering output fell 14.5 per cent last month, as marine and offshore engineering extended its decline by 30.5 per cent.

The volatile biomedical cluster was the worst performer, shrinking 23.3 per cent, as pharmaceuticals plunged 32.4 per cent.

But medical technology bucked the trend, jumping 11.1 per cent on higher exports of medical devices.

Excluding biomedical production, overall factory output grew 15.5 per cent year on year. Month-on-month, it grew by 5.4 per cent from March.