Singapore's factory output jumped 11.9 per cent in November over the same month last year, the fastest pace since March 2014 and better than October's revised 1.3 per cent expansion.
A surprise surge in electronics and biomedical productions lifted the headline figure way above private sector economists' forecast for a 1.6 per cent contraction.
Excluding output from the volatile biomedical cluster, last month's output still grew 6.4 per cent from a year ago, Economic Development Board data showed yesterday.
The pickup in activity closes a choppy year for the economy and is likely to keep Singapore from slipping into a technical recession, after contracting 2 per cent in the third quarter compared with the preceding three months, economists said.
"Manufacturing's contribution to fourth-quarter growth will be bigger than previously expected and will help push up full-year growth," said CIMB Private Bank economist Song Seng Wun.
Biomedical manufacturing output rose 34.8 per cent in November from a year ago, on the back of a 36.1 per cent rise in drug production, as well as a 30.8 per cent jump in medical technology output.
Electronics output - Singapore's biggest manufacturing cluster - grew 24.2 per cent in November from a year earlier, with semiconductors output up 49.6 per cent.
Four of Singapore's six manufacturing clusters, including the precision engineering and chemicals segments, were in expansion mode last month.
Still, the recovery was not as broad-based as economists would have liked to see, with general manufacturing output shrinking 0.9 per cent in November from a year earlier.
Transport engineering contracted 14.8 per cent, dragged down by a 23.6 per cent fall in marine and offshore engineering output.
Mr Song added: "Electronics seems on track to pick up even more in the coming year, especially on the back of a stronger United States economy. Let's keep our fingers crossed."
em>This article by The Straits Times was published in The New Paper, a free newspaper published by Singapore Press Holdings.
This article by The Straits Times was published in The New Paper, a free newspaper published by Singapore Press Holdings.