Rise in commerce activity fastest in 18 months

Better  exports boosted private sector output last month, although the growth was at a slower pace than in September, according to a poll of factory managers published yesterday.

New business has declined. The Standard Bank-sponsored purchasing managers’ index (PMI), compiled by financial information and services company Mark it, slipped to 50.2 points last month from 50.7 in September.

This showed a less severe decline than a Barclays Bank sponsored PMI released on Tuesday, which found that manufacturing activity had fallen to 45.9 points last month from 48.5 in September.

The Standard Bank PMI found that business activity had increased at the fastest pace in 18 months and was supported by the solid rise in new export business.

The poll found a second successive monthly improvement in operating conditions.

New orders fell from expansion into contraction, but the data suggested a strong pickup in new export orders, which rebounded six points last month.

Mark it found that employment continued to expand, although at a slower pace than in September.

The survey also revealed that competition and subdued cost inflation had led to the weakest increase in selling prices since July 2011, when data collection began.

The latest survey data highlighted ongoing pressure on supply chains.

Standard Bank economist Kuvasha Naidoo said the leading PMI indicator remained above one for the third consecutive month.

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