Tue, Dec 25, 2012 - Page 13 News List

Output rises, officials remain cautious

GROWTH MOMENTUM:Despite a series of year-on-year rises in a number of sectors, ministry officials remained cautious, forecasting total yearly production would stay flat

By Helen Ku  /  Staff reporter

Industrial production increased 5.85 percent last month from a year earlier, rising annually for the fifth month in a row, although output slid 1.43 percent from a month earlier, data released by the Ministry of Economic Affairs showed yesterday.

After seasonal adjustment, industrial production grew 0.6 percent last month from a year earlier.

Manufacturing production — which accounts for more than 90 percent of industrial output and includes the electronic, chemical, machinery, foodstuffs and textile industries — expanded 5.47 percent last month year-on-year, but declined 2.06 percent month-on-month, the ministry said in a report.

For the first 11 months of the year, total industrial output contracted 0.32 percent compared with the same period last year, the ministry said in a report, while manufacturing output fell by 0.51 percent, the report showed.

Supported by strong demand for mobile devices, such as smartphones, tablets, and high-end chips as well as wafer technology used in the products, the electronic component sector’s production increased by 11.12 percent year-on-year last month, Yang Kuei-hsien (楊貴顯), deputy director-general of the ministry’s statistics department, told a press conference.

Yang said the growth momentum of the electronic components industry could be sustained through the Lunar New Year holiday in February, as manufacturers could supply extra units of wafers, flat panels, integrated circuits and printed-circuit boards to prepare for holiday inventories.

The ministry yesterday maintained a cautious outlook for this month’s industrial production, as a recent survey of manufacturers showed about 10.9 percent of firms said they were optimistic that industrial production would increase this month, while 23.7 percent expected the figure to decrease and 65.4 percent forecast that output would remain the same as last month.

For the whole of this year, Yang said industrial production was likely to remain flat from last year’s level.

Sydney-based Moody’s Analytics associate economist Katrina Ell said last month’s improvement in industrial production was mainly driven by rising demand for electronics parts and components amid improving global tech demand.

“But with US consumer demand still on shaky ground, there is an elevated downside risk that recent improvements will not be sustained beyond the holiday period,” Ell said in a note yesterday.

Meanwhile, the ministry’s latest data on domestic trade, also released yesterday, showed revenue for the nation’s retail, wholesale and restaurant sectors totaled NT$1.17 trillion (US$40.4 billion) last month, up 1.3 percent year-on-year, but down 3.8 percent month-on-month.

Cumulative revenue from domestic trade in the first 11 months of the year totaled NT$12.99 trillion, down 0.6 percent year-on-year, the data showed.

Ell said last month’s domestic demand results were in line forecasts. However, “weak consumer confidence dampened by the shaky global environment and still-soft economic conditions at home is an ongoing drag,” she said in the note.

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