Pharma fuels unexpected jump in Singapore manufacturing in MarchPharma fuels unexpected jump in Singapore manufacturing in March
A general view of factories in the industrial district of Jurong in western Singapore

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Singapore’s factory output in March rose at its fastest pace in more than nine years, surging past expectations, as pharmaceutical manufacturing more than doubled, data showed on Friday.

Output rose 21.7% on a month-on-month and seasonally adjusted basis, data from the Singapore Economic Development Board showed, the biggest jump since January 2011. The median of six economists’ forecasts was for a 2% fall.

On a year-on-year basis, output rose 16.5% – the biggest increase since January 2018 – and was well above expectations for a 6.3% drop.

Pharmaceutical output increased 126.6% year-on-year, with higher production of active pharmaceutical ingredients and biological products. Shipments of pharmaceuticals pushed Singapore’s annual exports up 17.6% in March, data last week showed.

It was not immediately clear whether the surge in pharmaceuticals production was related to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has infected more than 2.6 million people globally.

Output in pharmaceuticals is inherently volatile because production happens in batches, which can take anywhere from a few days to weeks to make.

Electronics output decreased 9.2% in March year-on-year.

(Reporting by Aradhana Aravindan and John Geddie in Singapore; Editing by Kim Coghill and Gerry Doyle)