The industrial production index fell at the steepest pace in 10 months last month, mainly because of a decrease in manufacturing production and drop in supplies of electricity and gas, the Ministry of Economic Affairs said yesterday.
Last month, the industrial production index declined 2.93 percent from a month earlier and 1.78 percent from the same month last year, the ministry said in a report.
Manufacturing production — which accounts for more than 90 percent of the industrial output — declined 3.32 percent month-on-month and 1.93 percent year-on-year, ending three months of annual expansion, according to the report.
Electricity and gas supplies, the nation’s second-largest industrial items, grew for the second consecutive month, up 6.33 percent month-on-month, but down 2.79 percent year-on-year, the report showed.
“The contraction in manufacturing production last month was mainly because there were fewer working days due to Lunar New Year holiday,” Yang Kuei-hsien (楊貴顯), deputy director-general of the ministry’s statistics department, told a press conference.
Among local manufacturers, output by electronics and information technology makers shrank 0.2 percent from the year before, while production by machinery and metal suppliers was down 4.34 percent, the report said.
The latest report showed that production of basic metals dropped 3.27 percent last month from a year ago, output of machineries declined 4.31 percent, automobile production dropped by 6.44 percent, and that of PCs and optical products by 14.89 percent.
However, optical lens production continued growing last month on the back of robust demand for the product used in handsets, while electronic components output increased for the 21st straight month last month at a 3.17 percent growth rate, the report showed.
Output of chemical products also rose for the eighth consecutive month, at a growth rate of 2.55 percent last month, thanks to increased output of olefins by state-run CPC Corp, Taiwan (CPC, 台灣中油) and a low comparative base, the ministry said.
The ministry said domestic commercial sales — which include retail sales, wholesale trade and food and beverage services — grew 2.1 percent year-on-year for the fifth consecutive month to NT$1.24 trillion (US$40.9 billion) last month.
Retail sales rose 6.4 percent last month from a year earlier to NT$355.1 billion and food and beverage sales surged 11.8 percent to NT$36.3 billion an the back of higher demand created ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday.
However, wholesale sales remained relatively flat last month because the positive seasonal effects were offset by fewer workdays during the month and a decline in demand for gold and television sets, the ministry said.