South Africa’s manufacturing output contracted by 2.0% y/y in April, reversing a revised 4.0% y/y expansion in March, preliminary data from Statistics South Africa showed.
The drop was driven mainly by a 4.5% y/y decline in manufacturing of basic iron and steel, non-ferrous metal products, metal products and machinery (contribution of -0.9pp) and a 2.8% fall in manufacturing of petroleum, chemical products, rubber and plastic products (-contribution of -0.6pp). The segments of radio, television and communication apparatus and professional equipment and wood and wood products, paper, publishing and printing contributed -0.3pp each to the overall development as their production fell 15.3% y/y and 2.3% y/y, respectively.
On a seasonally adjusted monthly comparison basis, factory output declined 2.0% in April, after a 1.2% growth in March.
In the three months to end-April, the manufacturing production edged up by a seasonally-adjusted 0.1% as compared to the preceding three-month period, with four of the 10 manufacturing divisions reporting growth. It was by 0.7% higher y/y.
Year-to-date, factory output narrowed by 0.1% y/y.
The total sales of manufactured products at current prices fell 1.3% y/y to ZAR141.8bn ($11.4bn) in April, reversing a 6.5% y/y growth in the previous month, Stats SA said. On a seasonally adjusted basis, manufacturing sales dropped 2.7% m/m in April, but were by 1.0% lower in the three months to end-April as compared to the preceding three-month period. Year-to-date, factory sales rose 0.7% y/y.
The manufacturing industry, which accounts for 13% of South Africa’s total economic output, shrank 2.4% q/q in Q1 following a 9.5% q/q growth in Q4, but its y/y growth rate edged up to 0.4% from 0.3%. The sector, which was hit by strikes last year, is now troubled by frequent power outages, which affect manufacturers’ ability to produce, as well as by weak demand, both foreign and domestic.
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