Absa PMI reveals subdued financial exercise in fourth quarter

Intensified supply-side constraints within the PMI counsel that buying managers count on enterprise circumstances to deteriorate.

Though the Absa Buying Managers’ Index (PMI) rose 2.8 index factors to 48.2 in November, it nonetheless confirmed subdued financial exercise within the fourth quarter of the 12 months.

The PMI is an financial exercise index based mostly on a survey carried out by the Bureau for Financial Analysis (BER) and sponsored by Absa amongst a consultant group of buying managers within the South African manufacturing sector. These buying managers have to point every month whether or not a selected exercise for his or her firm elevated, decreased or remained unchanged.

In accordance with the BER this was the primary improve after two months of a decline within the headline index, though it didn’t return to constructive terrain. The enterprise exercise and new gross sales orders indices additionally nonetheless level to declining exercise and demand, though it was at a slower charge than earlier than.

The enterprise exercise index rose 5.7 factors to 46, whereas new gross sales orders booked a good larger 6.9-point improve in November to 46.6 factors. The BER says whereas these stable enhancements are encouraging and level to some restoration in underlying demand filtering by way of to higher exercise, there are some worrying indicators within the survey outcomes.

These worrying indicators embrace the truth that larger exercise didn’t filter by way of to the employment index, which remained largely unchanged at a low 41.1 index factors in November. One other concern is that the congestion at South Africa’s ports is seemingly leading to a slower supply of provides.

ALSO READ: Poor begin for financial exercise in fourth quarter – Absa PMI

Additional affect of supply-side constraints in PMI

Respondents famous that the unavailability of inputs required may harm manufacturing skills and push up prices. Exports have been additionally below stress and the BER says it’s worrying that it appears that it’s going to take at the least a couple of months for the disruptions on the harbours to clear up, which signifies that this might have a lingering detrimental affect on the sector.

The anticipated enterprise circumstances index declined additional in November and is now at its weakest degree for the reason that strictest months of South Africa’s Covid-19 lockdown in 2020. After a major 12.2-point decline in October, the index misplaced an additional 2.4 factors to succeed in 41 in November.

The BER says because of this buying managers count on enterprise circumstances to deteriorate in six months. Past points with logistics, the latest ramp-up within the depth of load shedding, after some weeks of respite, may additionally have depressed forward-looking sentiment.

Nonetheless, there was some excellent news on the associated fee entrance, with the buying value index persevering with its downward development and easing to 61.5 index factors in November. The BER says that is the bottom degree since early 2018 and means that after a short reacceleration in value stress earlier this 12 months amid a sharply weaker rand alternate charge, the moderation continued by way of the second half of the 12 months.

After two months of steep declines, the enterprise exercise index recovered a few of these losses in November, with the index rising to 46, nonetheless caught in contractionary terrain for a tenth straight month. Whereas demand improved considerably in November, the ramp-up within the depth of load shedding in direction of the tip of the month could have curtailed exercise development, the BER says.

ALSO READ: Chaos at ports will price the nation, companies and shoppers

Stable enchancment in new gross sales orders

An encouraging improvement was the stable enchancment within the new gross sales orders index in November after a couple of months of signalling very depressed underlying demand. In November the index rose to one of the best degree since early this 12 months and nonetheless factors to weakening demand, however the charge of the decline has slowed.

Regardless of an uptick in exercise, there was little change within the employment index and it remained caught beneath the impartial 50-point mark all through 2023. Official jobs information additionally confirms that the sector shed jobs in the course of the first three quarters of the 12 months.

The inventories index declined for a 3rd consecutive month to 42.8 in November, the bottom degree since mid-2021 and the BER says this may be linked to the worsening of provider deliveries efficiency as a result of congested ports.

Jee-A van der Linde, senior economist at Oxford Economics Africa, says the PMI reveals that South Africa’s economic system is working extremely inefficiently in the mean time and home industries are shedding competitiveness.

“The present financial traits level to elevated dangers of stagnation in 2024. And not using a sustained restoration in demand and except funding will increase, the broad-based financial development wanted to spice up employment and welfare can not occur,” he warns.

“We forecast the economic system will develop by 0.8% this 12 months and by 1.0% in 2024,” he says.

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