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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        26  February 2011

Singapore's manufacturing output rises

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Singapore's manufacturing output grew at a pace of 10.5 percent in January from a year ago, according to data released by the Economic Development Board (EDB). The increase was more than anticipated.

This was lifted by impressive growth in the precision manufacturing and electronics sectors.

Analysts had expected manufacturing output to grow around 7 percent last month.

Analysts said they expect growth to continue on an uptrend but warned it will likely be a bumpy ride for the rest of the year.

The precision engineering cluster was the star performer in January, expanding 41 percent from the previous year.

This was largely due to its machinery and systems segment, which saw strong demand for semiconductor related equipment and production from new plants.

That helped Singapore kick off the year on a solid footing with industrial output growth of over 10 percent for January.

Capital Economics Asia economist Vishnu Varathan said: "What happened was, in December, we saw a bit of a drop-off, and that has resumed now.

"In January, there was a bit of a spillover effect. The kind of pickup in industrial production is quite consistent with the capacity expansion in electronics... and that came through quite well in the headline numbers."

January's output was also lifted by a strong electronics cluster which grew 20 percent on-year, more than double the previous month's.

Although the volatile biomedical cluster improved on a sequential basis, it still posted an 8.9 per- cent contraction on-year.

Excluding that cluster, overall output would have risen by nearly double to 18.9 per cent.

Going forward, most experts said they expect industrial output to sustain its momentum but warned that rising oil prices may be a drag.

Observers expect the central bank to allow the Sing dollar to appreciate in order to temper imported inflation.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More

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