Industrial output fell 16.46 percent last month from a year ago as the Lunar New Year holiday reduced the number of working days, the Ministry of Economic Affairs said yesterday.
At 111.91 points, the output last month marked a steeper decline compared with November and December last year, when it dropped 4.58 percent and 8.06 percent respectively.
Output growth was positive throughout last year except for the last two months.
The ministry said on Monday that export orders — an indication of outbound shipments in the next one to three months — slowed to US$31.48 billion last month, as it was also dragged down by fewer working days during the festive period. The rate of contraction in orders last month widened from December’s 0.72 percent drop.
Manufacturing output — which accounts for more than 90 percent of the nation’s total factory output and which includes electronics, chemicals, machinery, food and textiles — slumped 16.92 percent last month.
The decline was due to fewer working days, which affected production and shipments, Huang Ji-shih (黃吉實), director-general of the ministry’s statistics department, told a press briefing.
He also attributed the slowdown to delayed buying as consumers await the launch of new electronics gadgets, scheduled to be unveiled at next week’s Mobile World Congress, a mobile devices trade fair in Spain, as well as CeBIT, the world’s largest technology trade fair, in Germany next month.
As a whole, the output for electronics and components dropped 14.47 percent last month, while that for basic metals dipped 17 percent. Chemical materials saw production contract by 10.58 percent.
For this month, Huang expects output to grow at least 5 percent from last year as production resumes full steam and given a higher comparison base. Lunar New Year last year fell in February, which had fewer working days.
The ministry also released domestic commercial trade figures last month.
Total revenue for the wholesale, retail, and food and beverage sectors was NT$1.13 trillion (US$38.1 billion), falling 7.21 percent year-on-year and 5.47 percent month-on-month.
The slump was mainly caused by wholesale trade, which slipped 9.83 percent last month to NT$756.2 billion, as well as retail trade, which declined 2.3 percent to NT$336 billion.
In contrast, food and beverage rose 8.39 percent to NT$34.8 billion as operators benefited from brisk sales during the holiday.