With the improvement in the economy gaining momentum, the manufacturing industry says it is optimistic it will see a strong first quarter in 2018. Manufacturing production increased by 2.5% year on year in January 2018 compared with a year ago, after a 1.8% year-on-year increase in December 2017. Seasonally adjusted manufacturing production decreased by 1.6% in January compared with December 2017. "Sentiment is changing and there is growing optimism about the prospects of the economy. Management teams are more positive about the future," said André de Ruyter, chairman of the Manufacturing Circle. However, De Ruyter stressed that the manufacturing sector was not out of the woods yet, as SA’s unemployment levels remained staggeringly high at 27.7% and business confidence was only starting to pick up. Companies surveyed by the Manufacturing Circle expected a further increase in the first quarter of 2018, attributing this to the general sentiment that the local economy was improving. St...

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