Industrial production grew at a weaker-than-expected 1.06 percent annually to 106.37 last month, choked by sagging demand for PC-related goods and optical products, the Ministry of Economic Affairs said yesterday.
“The industrial production index missed the ministry’s previous forecast of 3 percent annual growth, marking the weakest growth momentum in the past 14 months,” Department of Statistics Deputy Director-General Yang Kuei-hsien (楊貴顯) told a news conference.
The computer and optical product subindex plunged 13.37 percent from a year ago, mainly due to a decline in production of handheld devices, servers and cameras, which offset the growth from industrial computers and computer components, the Industrial Development Bureau said.
This marked the first annual output decline for commercial PC-related products and camera goods over the past 14 months, the bureau said, attributing the drop to rising production in China, which cannibalized orders and manufacturing in Taiwan.
“The decline in production of PC-related and camera goods was expected, but we did not expect such a sharp annual decline last month,” Yang said.
Due to weak demand for smartphone chips and falling production of flat panels and solar cells, growth in the output of electronics and components decelerated to 5.61 percent from the previous month’s 11.41 percent, Yang said.
Meanwhile, the vehicle and auto parts subindex dropped 15.88 percent last month from a year earlier, as some manufacturers upgraded their production lines.
Yang said the industrial production index this month is likely to increase from last month’s 106.37, citing historical trends and the ministry’s monthly survey of local manufacturers.
However, due to the lack of an across-the-board growth catalyst, the index is likely to be flat or to drop slightly from last year’s 110.32, he said.
Separately, the ministry said that commercial sales declined 2 percent to NT$1.169 trillion (US$38.24 billion) last month from a year ago, dragged by falling sales in the wholesale sector.
The wholesale sector, which accounted for 68.8 percent of all commercial sales, dropped 2.9 percent year-on-year to NT$815.2 billion last month, as some carmakers upgraded their production lines, causing a decline in the number of completed vehicles, Yang said.
Revenue from the retail sector dropped 0.1 percent annually to NT$320.9 billion last month, affected by the falling average selling price of fuel, Yang said.
Sales in the restaurant sector grew 2.5 percent to NT$32.9 billion from a year ago, driven by the four-day Tomb Sweeping Day holiday weekend, Yang said, adding that the warm weather last month lifted sales of beverages and ice cream.
Yang said that commercial sales for this month is expected to grow from last month’s NT$1.169 trillion and be flat from last year’s NT$1.2191 trillion, aided by demand for Mother’s Day celebrations and buying ahead of the Dragon Boat Festival next month.
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