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Otago-Southland manufacturers had something to smile about yesterday when the latest BNZ-BusinessNZ performance in manufacturing index figures were released.
Not only did the index increase to 71 points in November, but the region leads the country by a substantial margin.
A reading above 50 represents expansion of an industry and below 50 a contraction.
The New Zealand adjusted index was 45.7 in November.
The regional unadjusted indices were 54.9 points for the northern region, 43.2 for the central region and 56.9 for Canterbury-Westland.
BusinessNZ executive director for manufacturing Catherine Beard said the pre-Christmas period had not been strong enough to get manufacturing back in the black.
"Manufacturing usually experiences a strong pick-up in the unadjusted November result to ensure an equally strong seasonally adjusted figure. However, the required leap from October to November just did not happen.
"Words such as recession, slowdown and the world economy dominated comments from respondents for those experiencing a drop in activity. The only comfort that can be taken from the current result is that we are not alone, given the JPMorgan global manufacturing PMI also showed deterioration at 49.6 for November," she said.
However, Otago-Southland Employers Association chief executive John Scandrett was much more enthusiastic.
"It is most encouraging to see the Otago-Southland unadjusted PMI not only once again leading the national reading, but also once more improving significantly on the previous month's survey results."
In anyone's language, the November 71-point outcome, when aligned with the twin 60-point readings seen in September and October, could only serve to present a manufacturing sector that was tracking in a robust and expansionary mode, he said.
As shown in each of the previous three-month survey results, food and beverage activities continued to underpin manufacturing strength across the region.
Connected comments from survey participants highlighted seasonal lift and Australian market growth as key drivers supporting the continuing strength, he said.
Additional positive comments had also flowed from metal industry sources, machinery manufacturers and some sections of the wood and paper industry.
The breakdown of the survey results locally continued to produce positive analysis in all supporting sub-indices - production, new orders, employment and finished stock categories.
Last month, Mr Scandrett predicted further PMI growth as local manufacturers focused on pre-Christmas production targets.
"While it now seems our forecasts were accurate, the extent of the strong November lift has surprised us."