Singapore’s factory output remained in the red with an 8.4% year-on-year contraction in July, following broad based contraction in all sectors. This marks the metric’s third straight month of decline.

Excluding the biomedical cluster, the decline in output narrowed to 5.2%, according to data released by the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB), a government agency under the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI).

The latest decline surpasses the 6.7% contraction staged in June and May’s 7.4% plunge, or what was deemed the republic’s worst year-on-year performance on record since 1983.

On a seasonally adjusted month-on-month basis, manufacturing output increased 1.6% in July – an improvement from the 0.2% growth registered in June. Excluding biomedical manufacturing, July’s output grew significantly by 10%.

The biomedical sector has been a key driver of Singapore’s factory output this year. However, the sector bucked the trend with a 24.8% plunge in July, narrowing from the 30.6% decline registered in June. 

This follows a 30.5% decline in the output of biological products and a different mix of active pharmaceuticals ingredients. A further decline to the sector came from a 10.1% dip in the production of medical technology.

Transport engineering similarly, dipped 39.8% in June as all segments took a hit. Specifically, the marine & offshore engineering segment shrank 58.7% as the movement control restrictions at foreign worker dormitories continued to impact the activity levels at the shipyards.

The cluster was also burdened by weakness in aerospace activity as the volume of aircraft repair and maintenance work remained low due to the travel restrictions.

General manufacturing followed suit, widening its decline to 22.2% amid softer demand and scaled down production. The dip was led by miscellaneous industries (-38.7%), printing (-18.8%) and food, beverage and tobacco (-9.8%).

With a 2.4% contraction, the chemicals cluster narrowed its decline in output. This comes on the back of lower output in its chemicals segment (-15.2%) and specialties and petroleum segment (-16.0%) which were affected by plant maintenance shutdowns and lower export orders.

A further decline was mitigated by an 11.5% expansion in the petrochemicals segment.

The linchpin electronics segment was the last segment to register a contraction, with a 1.4% drop. This is attributed to declines in the infocomms & consumer electronics and computers & data storage segments.

In contrast, the other clusters: electronic modules & components and semiconductors grew 2.8% and 0.3% respectively, thereby narrowing the extent of the sector’s shrinkage.

Conversely, output for precision engineering was up 9.3% in July, gaining traction from its 9.1 % expansion the month before. This follows an 20.4% increase in its machinery and systems segment, thanks to higher production of semiconductor equipment.

A further decline was however impeded by a 14.7% decline in the precision modules and components segment which was affected by lower output in optical products and dies, moulds, tools, jigs and fixtures.