Manufacturing index best in country

Otago-Southland led the country in November as manufacturing momentum continued into its 14th month of consecutive gains.

New orders led the national sub-index gain and also for Otago Southland, where significant gains were seen in the South in wood/paper, food and beverage and textile activities, according to the BNZ-Business New Zealand performance of manufacturing index, released yesterday.

Otago Southland Employers' Association chief executive John Scandrett, said feedback in November from almost all operators supported continuing buoyancy in the sector, plus, a lift in the Australian retail market had been positive for the local packaging industry.

''We're pleased to note that strong manufacturing production, new orders and delivery outcomes drove the November Otago Southland manufacturing index to a robust, national-leading 65.7 value points,'' Mr Scandrett said.

An index ranking above 50 denotes expansion and below 50, contraction, and nationally stood at 56.7 for November; averaging 56 during 2013.

Otago-Southland was top at 65.7, followed by central North Island at 64.6 and northern North Island and Canterbury-Westland at 62.2 and 60, respectively.

Business New Zealand executive director for manufacturing Catherine Beard said various elements of the November result shone a positive light on the sector.

''While all the manufacturing sub-sectors were in expansion, key sectors such as metal product manufacturing are showing stellar levels of activity, no doubt partly due to the boom in construction at present,'' she said in a statement yesterday. Additionally, new orders and production remained key components towards ongoing expansion in the sector, while employment levels were showing more consistent and steady growth, she said. She said respondents had noted the stronger pre-Christmas rush compared with previous years, which boded well ''for a convincing end to 2013''.

Mr Scandrett said that overall, the November result produced improved manufacturing outcomes, compared to September and October, and it was interesting Otago Southland was tracking on a similar alignment to the corresponding time last year; which again led the country on 65, at the time.

He noted machinery and equipment operators reported some downturn patterns, while it appeared the high global demand for dairy products was responsible for negative comments on ''pricey'' raw material, for at least one southern food manufacturer.

- simon.hartley@odt.co.nz

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