Manufacturing production contracted for the seventh-consecutive month in December, falling far more than economists expected in the month SA experienced stage six load-shedding for the first time.

Factory output decreased by 5.9% year-on-year in December from a contraction of 3.2% in November, data from Statistics SA showed on Thursday. 

The Bloomberg consensus had been for a fall of 3.9%, and December’s fall was the worst month for the sector since July 2014.

The latest print comes as the country battles load-shedding and declining economic growth prospects, with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank expecting the local economy to grow by less than 1% in 2020. 

The biggest contributor to the decline was the motor vehicles, parts and accessories and other transport equipment division, which decreased 24.9%. This was followed by the petroleum, chemical products, rubber and plastic products sector, which declined by 5.9%.

Seasonally adjusted manufacturing production decreased  by 2.8% month-on-month in December.