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Manufacturing recovery slows again in March 2019

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The Australian Industry Group Australian Performance of Manufacturing Index (Australian PMI®) fell 3.0 points to 51.0 in March 2019 marking a return to the flat conditions at the close of 2018 and in contrast to February 2019’s stronger result (readings above 50 points indicate expansion in activity, with the distance from 50 indicating the strength of the increase).

The Australian PMI® has been stable or positive (50 points or higher) since August 2016 (31 consecutive months), but its trend has suggested slowing growth rates since its recent peak in March 2018.

Ai Group Chief Executive Innes Willox said: “While gaining some ground, largely on the back of a lift in performance from the large food & beverage sub-sector, Australian manufacturing contributed to the slower pace of overall economic growth in March (2019). Metal product manufacturers, and businesses in the machinery & equipment and building products sub-sectors fell deeper into the red as drought and the slump in the construction sector continued to flow through supply chains. Domestic sales were sharply lower and the pace of production growth eased while employment and, to a lesser extent export sales, recorded another month of gains. Survey respondents attributed part of the fall in sales to wariness about the outcome of the upcoming federal election. With new orders flat, manufacturers will be looking to tomorrow’s (April 2 2019) Budget for a boost in business and consumer confidence,” Mr Willox said.

Australian PMI®: Key Findings for March 2019:

  • Four of the seven activity indexes in the Australian PMI® indicated expansion or stable conditions in March 2019, with all indexes lower this month compared to February 2019 except for finished stocks (up 1.6 points to 46.1). Production (down 5.1 points to 52.8) and employment (down 1.1 points to 56.6) remained in positive territory, while the new orders index was stable (down 2.0 points to 50.0).
  • There was a clear divergence among the six manufacturing sectors in March 2019. Food & beverages (up 1.4 points to 59.0), chemicals (down 0.8 points to 51.3) and textiles, clothing, footwear, paper & printing (up 2.0 points to 57.7) expanded, while machinery & equipment (down 1.7 points to 46.1), metals (down 0.9 points to 46.4) and building materials, wood, furniture & other manufacturing (down 2.5 points to 44.7) contracted (trend).
  • The input prices index dropped 5.9 points to 65.1 in March 2019. It has decelerated since reaching a peak of 75.6 points in September 2018, and fell below its long-run average (67.7 points) for the first time in a year.
  • The selling prices index rose by 1.4 points to 53.0, indicating that prices for some manufactured goods are continuing to rise following the price falls of December 2018.
  • The average wages index rose by 1.7 points to 61.2 in March 2019. After rising steadily throughout 2017 and 2018, the wages index has been trending lower since its recent peak in September 2018, indicating that fewer manufacturing businesses are now implementing wage rises, relative to the recent peak in Q3 of 2018.

Background: The Australian Industry Group Australian Performance of Manufacturing Index (Australian PMI®) is a national composite index calculated from a weighted mix of the diffusion indices for production, new orders, deliveries, inventories and employment. An Australian PMI® reading above 50 points indicates that manufacturing activity is expanding; below 50, that it is declining. The distance from 50 indicates the strength of expansion or decline. Australian PMI® results are based on responses from a national sample of manufacturers that includes all states and all sub-sectors. The Australian PMI® uses the ANZSIC industry classifications for manufacturing sub-sectors and sub-sector weights derived from ABS industry output data. Seasonally adjusted and trend data are calculated according to ABS methodology. The Australian PMI® commenced in 1992. More information about the history and methodology of the Australian PMI® is available online.

Source: Ai Group

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