13 May 2010

Manufacturing activity on the increase

4:02 pm on 13 May 2010

Activity in the manufacturing sector hit a five-and-a-half year high in April.

The BNZ-Business New Zealand monthly survey of the sector shows activity has increased across all regions and all firms, with production, new orders and employment all rising.

The Performance of Manufacturing Index rose more than 2 points to 58.9 in April. A reading well above 50 indicates manufacturing is expanding strongly.

The sector continues to benefit from strong growth Australia, its largest single market. A below-average exchange rate with that country is also boosting demand.

The survey shows factories continue to expand production and orders are also picking up.

The April survey shows more firms intend to hire workers than those who expect to shed jobs - the third consecutive month that more firms have intended to hire workers than not.

Last week's official jobs figures showed employment across the sector rose in the March quarter.

Despite the positive outlook, official figures show employment in the sector is still down on a year ago.