Manufacturing hit as markets soften
Manufacturing activity slumped further last month, hitting a low for the year, on the back of economic decline in Australia and China and the stubbornly strong kiwi dollar.
The BNZ-BusinessNZ Performance of Manufacturing Index fell to 47.2 last month, down 2.2 points from July and the lowest level of activity since November last year.
A PMI reading above 50 indicates manufacturing activity is expanding, while a reading below that suggests it is declining.
In the last three months the PMI has averaged 48.6.
The weak result follows news of job cuts at several major manufacturing companies in the country, which has prompted calls for the Government to do more to help the sector.
BNZ economist Doug Steel said international concerns, including further signs of economic slowdowns in Australia and China, were likely to be one reason behind last month's lapse.
"The strong NZ dollar is also a major drag on local manufacturers. The fact that NZ's PMI is generally in line with international comparators will bring little solace to manufacturers but it does add some context."
Catherine Beard, BusinessNZ's executive director for manufacturing, said the sector was complex.
"The recently released Statistics NZ Economic Survey of Manufacturing showed that despite dips in particular areas of manufacturing, such as simple commodity based products, the other end of the manufacturing scene involving elaborately transformed manufactured goods have done well over recent months with a boost in both values and volumes."
Some of the sluggish manufacturing demand was also due to cyclical movements in commodity products, she said.
Activity in all five seasonally adjusted main indices fell back last month, in a first since October last year.
Employment was the worst hit, down 2.1 points to 45.4 - the lowest result since July 2009.
Production was down 1.9 points to 47.6.
Some regions managed to increase activity, with unadjusted results putting the Central region at 52.7, up 2 points.
Otago/Southland was also in positive territory, on 50.9, after two months of contracting activity.
But the two largest manufacturing regions were both down significantly. Activity in the Northern region came in at 45.4, and Canterbury/Westland registered a 45.9.
- © Fairfax NZ News