New Zealand manufacturing has expanded for the third month in a row and reached its highest expansion rate since 2004, according to the monthly BNZ -Business NZ performance of manufacturing index (PMI) survey.
The seasonally adjusted PMI, an indicator of manufacturing sector activity levels, for April stood at 58.9 -- up 2.2 points from March, indicating the sector has left behind the recessionary depths it plunged to between 2008 and 2009, those behind the survey said today.
A PMI reading above 50 indicates that manufacturing is generally expanding, while below 50 indicates a decline.
The April result was also the third consecutive month that all the main indices -- production, new orders, employment, finished stocks and deliveries -- expanded.
Business NZ manufacturing executive director Catherine Beard said the results fitted well with the global manufacturing scene.
The manufacturing sector was critical to employment in New Zealand, since it was the biggest employment sector in the Auckland region and the second largest employment sector in the country overall, she said.
"The continued slow and steady expansion in the sector is finally flowing through to new jobs, which is good news for the unemployed and good news for the economy."
BNZ economist Doug Steel said there had been a marked turnaround from the terrible conditions of 12 months ago when firms were shedding labour and manufacturing firms of all sizes were contracting.
"While there are still some negative comments in survey responses, the advancing manufacturing sector will certainly help offset patchiness or even outright weakness in some other parts of the economy."
Production, at 63, was the highest value, up 2.8 points on last month.
New orders, 61, remain healthy and were up 3.7 points from March.
Employment, 52.2, expanded another 2 points from March and was the highest it has been since the end of 2007.
Finished stocks, 53.4, were in positive territory for the third month running after a prolonged period in contraction, while deliveries, 58.7, rose 1.5 points to stand at its highest result since November 2004.
Unadjusted results by region showed all were in expansion during April.
Again Canterbury led the way with 58, followed closely by the Central region, 56.6, which was previously contracting.
Northern stood at 54.3, while Otago/Southland, 53.4, slipped from March, albeit still showing expansion.