The industrial production index declined last month after growing for two consecutive months, affected by a more than 20 percent drop in construction activities, the Ministry of Economic Affairs said yesterday.
“Due to a high comparative base, construction output shrank 22.26 percent year-on-year last month, dragging down the industrial production index,” Yang Kuei-hsien (楊貴顯), deputy director-general of the ministry’s statistics department, told a press conference.
According to the ministry’s latest report, the industrial production index declined 2.34 percent last month from a month earlier and 0.12 percent from the same month last year.
Manufacturing output — which accounts for more than 90 percent of the industrial output — rose for the third consecutive month last month at an annual growth rate of 0.5 percent, the report showed.
“In addition to increased shipments of semiconductors and optics used to manufacture handheld devices, growth in the output of petrochemicals, basic metals and autos helped boost manufacturing production last month,” Yang said.
Thanks to robust global demand for smartphones and tablet computers, semiconductor output lifted total electronics component production by 2.88 percent year-on-year last month, Yang said.
Petrochemicals production increased 3.31 percent year-on-year last month, while basic metals and autos grew 2.93 percent and 3.67 percent respectively during the same period, he added.
In contrast, due to weakening global demand, production of global positioning systems (GPS), TVs and photography equipment contracted last month, dragging down PC and optical products output by 12.68 percent year-on-year, the report showed.
Citing a survey conducted by the ministry, Yang said local smartphone vendors’ shipments contracted by 30 to 40 percent year-on-year last month because of intense global competition.
“Records showed that the country’s smartphone output had been falling for two years since December 2011, dragging down total consumer electronics production as a result,” Yang said.
For this month, the ministry forecast that the industrial production index would remain flat, supported by improving economic conditions in the US and European countries, and increasing shipments of semiconductors and optical components ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday.
However, local output might be affected by the US Federal Reserve’s tapering of its monetary-easing measures and competition from rival producers in Japan, South Korea and China, Yang said.
Separately, the ministry yesterday said that commercial sales — which include the wholesale, retail and restaurant sectors — grew for the third straight month to NT$1.2 trillion (US$40.17 billion) last month, driven by sales of new cars and winter clothes, as well as strong seasonal sales in department stores.
Last month’s figure was up 2.3 percent year-on-year, but down 3 percent month-on-month.
Cumulative commercial sales during the first 11 months of the year totaled NT$130.5 trillion, up 0.4 percent from NT$129.97 trillion during the same period last year, the data showed.
As demand for cars, clothes, food and consumer electronics tends to increase during the year-end holidays and with the Lunar New Year holiday arriving late next month, the ministry forecast that commercial sales would continue growing this month, lifting full-year sales past last year’s level of NT$142.07 trillion, Yang said.