New Zealand's manufacturing sector expanded for the 19th consecutive month in April, according to the latest BNZ - BusinessNZ Performance of Manufacturing Index.
However, the rate of expansion slowed slightly to a seasonally adjusted score of 55.2, down 2.8 points from March although similar to results over the last eight months.
An index reading above 50 indicates that manufacturing is generally expanding and below 50 that it is declining.
The sector has expanded for 19 consecutive months, with the first four months of 2014 averaging a score of 56.4.
Four of the five main indices expanded during April.
Production (55.3), deliveries (55.3) and new orders (55.2) displayed almost identical levels of expansion, while employment (54.5) returned to February levels.
Finished stocks (49.3) was the only index to contract and also returned to levels seen in February.
BusinessNZ's executive director for manufacturing Catherine Beard said that although the level of expansion was not as strong as the previous month, activity was still healthy and positive across most of the sub-indices recorded.
"Comments from respondents remained more positive than negative, although a contributing factor to the lower level of expansion that came through was the lower number of working days in April because of the Easter/Anzac break."
BNZ economist Doug Steel said: "Despite what looks like a holiday-induced slowdown in April, the trends in the PMI are strong and especially so in employment. Buoyant construction and agriculture sectors look supportive on the demand side".
All four regions were expanded again in April, although there were significant differences in the rate of expansion between areas.
In the North Island, the northern region (53) dropped 6.2 points, while the central region (51.3) fell 6.3 points after consecutive months above 57.0.
In the South Island, the Canterbury/Westland region (50.1) only just managed to remain in positive territory, while the Otago-Southland region (57.7) dipped a further 2.1 points.