Singapore Sept factory output seen edging higher

SINGAPORE - Singapore's industrial production likely edged higher in September as increased activity in the offshore marine and biomedical sectors offset weakness in electronics, according to a Reuters poll.

The city-state last week reported a surprise 3.4 per cent year-on-year drop in September non-oil domestic exports, disappointing economists who had expected a slight recovery following a strong performance by Taiwanese exporters last month.

The main area of weakness was the electronics sector, which registered a 16.4 per cent decline in September from a year ago even as technology firms in Taiwan and South Korea received a boost from the launch of new smartphones such as Apple's iPhone 5.

Output from Singapore factories probably rose 1.9 per cent in September on a year-on-year basis, the median forecast from the poll of 11 economists showed.

Compared with August, industrial production may have increased by 2.8 per cent after seasonal adjustments, according to the four economists who also provided month-on-month estimates.

Barclays said in a note to clients that while September exports data pointed to weakness in industrial production, the government's advance estimate for third quarter gross domestic product suggested a rebound, "possibly from lumpier categories like biomedical and rig building".

Although Singapore exports most of what it produces, non-oil domestic exports and industrial production data can differ as there is sometimes a time lag between production and shipment of large items such as oil rigs.

The exports data tracks the value of goods sold abroad in Singapore dollar terms while industrial production is based on an index that takes into consideration the value-added provided by different sectors.

Singapore earlier this month stuck to its forecast for full-year economic growth of 1.5 to 2.5 per cent this year, despite a larger-than-expected 1.5 per cent quarter-on-quarter contraction in third quarter GDP on an annualised and seasonally adjusted basis.

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