Manufacturing is returning to an even keel, showing a tiny level of expansion in October, after falling backwards for the past few months in what was the worst patch since 2009.
The latest BNZ-BusinessNZ Performance of Manufacturing Index was 50.5 in October, with a number above 50 indicating the sector is generally expanding and below 50 that it is contracting.
The index was up 2 points from September, to the first sign of expansion after four months of going backwards. In the last quarter the index has averaged 48.8, and 51.2 for the past year.
BusinessNZ's executive director for manufacturing Catherine Beard said the latest figure was positive, but no one should think this is the immediate start of better times ahead for the sector.
"Looking at the history of the survey, we've just come out of the longest consecutive period of contraction since 2009," she said.
On the plus side, there was an improvement in production and a sharp rise in the number of positive comments by manufacturers.
But new orders remained historically low, while those employed in manufacturing have been in decline for five consecutive months.
BNZ senior economist Craig Ebert said the October result gave hope that the sector was stabilising after going through a rough patch.