Industrial output grew 3.18 percent last month, fueled by inventory buildup demand for chips used in mobile devices and petrochemical products ahead of the Lunar New Year holidays, the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) said yesterday.
On an annual basis, industrial output grew 5.07 percent as the recovering global economy helped drive overseas demand, ministry statistics department Deputy Director Yang Kuei-hsien (楊貴顯) said in a telephone interview.
Industrial output inched up 0.75 percent as a whole from the year before, while manufacturing output grew at a slower rate of 0.66 percent.
“Industrial output has been in good shape since September,” Yang said.
Last month, chip output jumped 19 percent year-on-year in the strongest growth among major sectors, supported by robust demand for mobile devices and new product launches ahead of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the ministry said in a statement.
That helped boost the electronic component sub-index last year by 4.42 percent over 2012’s results, a record high, the ministry said.
The auto and machine tools sectors rose 12 percent last month — the highest growth in three-and-a-half years — and a 14 percent year-on-year expansion, because of sales promotion ahead of the Lunar New Year holidays and increased demand driven by the global economic revival, it said.
Output of flat panels and PC contracts slipped last month at an annual rate of 4.87 percent and 9.68 percent respectively, ministry statistics show.
Yang attributed the decline to reduced demand from China and smartphone cannibalization.
Industrial output is expected to dip slightly this month because of the Lunar New Year holidays, which will cut the number of working days, Yang said.
That expectation was reflected in a survey conducted by the ministry that indicated 65 percent of respondents expected this month to be flat compared with last month and more than 25 percent expected industrial output to decline.
Less than 10 percent expected an increase, according to the survey.
However, industrial output is expected to extend its upward trend of the last two quarters, benefiting from a brisk global economy, Yang said.
As global economic growth forecasts for this year are raised by economists around the world, Taiwanese manufacturers, from chipmakers and solar companies to steelmakers, will benefit from rising demand overseas, Yang said.