Fri, Aug 24, 2012 - Page 13 News List

Industrial contraction begins to slow

DEMAND:A senior official in the Ministry of Economic Affairs says the numbers could swing back into positive territory this month with just a ‘little bit of extra effort’

By Lisa Wang  /  Staff reporter

The industrial production index dropped at a slower-than-expected annual rate last month as solid growth in electronic components on strong demand from Apple Inc and other global brands helped offset decline in locally made handsets and PCs, the Ministry of Economic Affairs said yesterday.

Industrial production slipped an annual rate of 0.02 percent last month, the fifth straight month of contraction, after PC and smartphone manufacturing dropped 10.29 percent annually because of stiff competition and stalled demand ahead of launch of new PCs running Windows 8 system, the ministry’s statistics showed.

However, strong demand for advanced chips and flat panels has boosted production of electronic components, which grew 4.91 percent last month from a year ago, according to the ministry.

This month, the industrial production index is expected to hold steady based on a survey conducted by the ministry, paving the way for the index to be flat this quarter from last quarter, ending three quarters in year-on-year decline since the fourth quarter of last year.

However, Lin Lee-jen (林麗貞), director-general of the ministry’s statistics department, said there was a likelihood that the industrial production would swing back to the positive territory this month.

“We will need just a little bit of extra effort to bring the index to back to growth,” Lin said.

Sales of Apple Inc’s new iPhone 5 and Windows 8-based laptops later this quarter would help lift the growth momentum of the nation’s information and electronics sector, the ministry said in a press release yesterday.

The latest industrial production results beat Moody’s Analytics’ estimate of 1.6 percent annual contraction and a consensus of 1.9 percent fall, according to a note released yesterday.

On a monthly basis, the industrial output represented a monthly growth of 3.98 percent, after electronic component production hit a record high, or expanding 4.36 percent month-on-month, according to the ministry’s statement.

The ministry attributed the growth to demand from US top electronics company Apple Inc because Taiwanese manufacturers are the major component suppliers to Apple’s iPhones and iPads.

“We saw strong demand for advanced chips and flat screens,” Lin said.

Separately, the ministry said revenues of wholesale, retail and restaurant sectors slipped 1.3 percent to NT$1.22 trillion (US$40.72 billion) last month from a year ago, as slowing overseas demand cut whole sales by 3.2 percent year-on-year.

Restaurant revenues grew 3.1 percent annually because of an increase in tourists, the ministry said.

On a monthly basis, the overall revenues from wholesale and retail trade and restaurant business grew 1.4 percent mostly driven by increase from convenient stores. Convenient story revenues jumped 11.6 percent last month from June on strong demand f or drinks and fast food in summer.

Revenues this month is expected to drop from last month, the ministry’s survey showed.

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