S’pore manufacturing booms 

Singapore’s manufacturing sector has had a strong start to the year with January’s factory activity rising for the 17th consecutive month. 

Electronics manufacturing saw growth reducing for the second month in a row, although manufacturers remain optimistic.

The Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), which measures manufacturing activity, was 53.1 for last month, up from 52.8 in December before and the highest reading since December 2009. A PMI of 50 or above indicates growth.

The Singapore Institute of Purchasing and Materials Management (SIPMM), which compiles the PMI from a monthly poll of purchasing data from more than 150 industrial firms, said the January figure “marked a good start of the year for the manufacturing sectors, which was boosted by the non-electronics sectors”.

The electronics sector recorded its 18th straight month of continued expansion, posting a reading of 52.9 following a further drop of 0.3 percentage point from the previous month. This was due to a slower rate of expansion in new orders, exports and factory output.

The electronics order backlog also contracted for the first time after expanding for 12 consecutive months.

OCBC economist Selena Ling forecast that manufacturing’s year-on-year growth this year to cool from the double-digit rate of 10.4 per cent last year to a more sedate 5-per-cent growth.

She said the January data suggested that the electronics industry’s boom had reached a peak in November. “The divergence between the two PMI readings suggests that the manufacturing momentum had diversified beyond electronics,” Ling said.

The data comes after Singapore’s factories posted their biggest on-year output decline in two years in December, sparked by a slump in pharmaceuticals production.

Singapore has had a prickly response to being named one of the least exciting among 32 cities in Time Out’s 2018 City Life Index.

Social media rushed to defend the city-state, pointing to events like the Formula 1 Grand Prix.

The Singapore Tourism Board released a video on Facebook saying “There is nothing exciting to do”, while showing the high-tech city’s attractions and activities, including a bungy jump. “Yeah, Singapore is boring,” it said.

The survey of 15,000 people in 32 cities ranked Singapore the 31st of the “most exciting cities”.

Singapore scored a high rating for safety and public transport while its “much buzzier restaurant scene” compared favourably with other cities towards the bottom of the list.


The Singaporean economy is looking up. Picture credit: Flickr