Uphill battle: Data on Tuesday showed manufacturing recorded 2.2% growth for October, which was better than had been expected. The sector shed 5,000 jobs in the third quarter, while 9,000 jobs were lost in the mining industry. Picture: SUPPLIED
Uphill battle: Data on Tuesday showed manufacturing recorded 2.2% growth for October, which was better than had been expected. The sector shed 5,000 jobs in the third quarter, while 9,000 jobs were lost in the mining industry. Picture: SUPPLIED

Purchasing managers index (PMI) data from Standard Bank, which gauges activity in the entire economy, signalled a further improvement in the health of the South African private sector in March.

The PMI registered 51.1, signalling a modest improvement in business conditions in March, after it finally breached the 50-point mark for the first time in seven months in February, reaching 51.4 from 49.0 in January.

Standard Bank economist Thanda Sithole expects the economy-wide PMI to improve in the near term.

"This is premised on the improved political landscape alongside positive interventions in state-owned enterprises (SOEs) to restore good governance, Cabinet renewal in key government positions and recently the Moody’s decision to preserve SA’s investment grade rating and change the rating outlook from negative to stable."

Business activity increased for the second month in succession as client demand strengthened while new orders rose again in March, albeit to a lesser extent than that observed in February.

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