Pharmaceutical sector buoys Singapore factory output

Singapore’s manufacturing industry rebounded last month, with the jump partly owed to the pharmaceutical sector which grasped opportunities during the global pandemic.

According to a report by The Straits Times, the pharmaceutical sector rebounded along with the semiconductor industry, with the latter riding on the high demand in fifth-generation (5G) frequencies.

Data released by the Economic Development Board showed that factory output during the period expanded by 17.9 percent year-on-year, beating analysts’ expectations and reversing the 0.8-percent decrease seen a month prior.

Economists polled by Bloomberg forecast a 14.1-percent rise.

Analysts expected that the manufacturing sector would end on a positive note with more than 6 percent growth.

Maybank Kim Eng senior economist Chua Hak Bin was quoted as saying that the manufacturing sector has been “remarkably resilient” this year unlike previous recessions, where it had been a major casualty.

He said this was likely to continue the third quarter’s 10 percent growth in the fourth quarter of the year.

In a separate comment, OCBC Bank’s treasury research and strategy head Selena Ling said: “Biomedical manufacturing is definitely the shining star for now, with the pandemic driving global demand for test kits, vaccines, and other related paraphernalia in the short term.”

Ling said that the manufacturing sector was expected to see low single-digit growth in the next year.

“Given that the sector had expanded 6.5 percent for the first 11 months of the year, it may be realistic to expect some moderation in growth momentum,” she said.

Sharing the same view with Chua, Ling said that given growth experienced by the manufacturing sector, recovery in 2021 “would have to be more dependent on the service sector, which will, in turn, depend on vaccinations and the lifting of travel restrictions.”

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