Activity in New Zealand’s manufacturing sector continued to march onwards, according to the latest BNZ - BusinessNZ Performance of Manufacturing Index (PMI).
The seasonally adjusted PMI for March was 58.4 (a PMI reading above 50.0 indicates that manufacturing is generally expanding; below 50.0 that it is declining). This was 1.9 points higher than February and the highest level of activity since July 2013. The sector has now been in expansion for 19 consecutive months, with the first quarter of 2014 averaging 57.1.
BusinessNZ’s executive director for manufacturing Catherine Beard said that there were a number of pleasing aspects to the March result.
“After five consecutive months of solid activity, it was pleasing to see activity experience a further boost. Both production and new orders remained strong, while employment also lifted to its highest level for over six years.
“The proportion of positive comments from manufacturers for March broke the 60 percent value for the first time this year, as new orders/customers and an improving economy is providing a stronger platform for business growth.”
BNZ Head of Research Stephen Toplis said, “The manufacturing sector is in a buoyant mood – and rightly so. However, the economy and financial markets are at an inflection point. At such times, the potential for significant movements in interest rates and exchange rates is heightened. Given this, businesses need to focus on risk management to ensure that the impact of such risks can be mitigated.”
For the first time since October 2013, all five seasonally adjusted main diffusion indices were in expansion for the current month. Both production and new orders (60.5) displayed the same level of expansion, while employment (56.3) rose 1.6 points to record its highest level since November 2007. Deliveries of raw materials (57.1) edged slightly downwards from February, while finished stocks (51.1) went back into expansion after four consecutive months in contraction.
All four regions were again in expansion during March, with levels very similar across the country. In the North Island, the Northern region (59.2) rose 6.3 points, while the Central region (57.6) was almost identical to February’s result. In the South Island, the Canterbury/Westland region (59.9) picked up 6.2 points from February, while the Otago-Southland region (59.8) dipped 1.9 points.