Manufacturing sector in Taiwan expands at softer pace in February
Staff Writer | March 6, 2018
The rate of improvement in the Taiwanese manufacturing sector moderated slightly in February, with softer increases in output, new work and employment recorded.
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Nonetheless, growth in total new orders and export sales remained sharp, and contributed to the fastest rise in outstanding business since early-2011.
However, inflationary pressures intensified, with average input costs and output charges both increasing at sharper rates.
The headline Nikkei Taiwan Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ IndexTM (PMI) is a composite single-figure indicator of manufacturing performance.
It is derived from sub-indices for new orders, output, employment, suppliers’ delivery times and stocks of purchases.
Any figure greater than 50.0 indicates an overall improvement in operating conditions.
Adjusted for seasonal factors, the headline PMI registered 56.0 in February, down from 56.9 in January, to signal a further improvement in the health of Taiwan’s manufacturing sector.
Although the latest PMI reading was the lowest seen for four months, it remained consistent with a sharp pace of improvement that was stronger than the series long-run average.
Both production and new business expanded at weaker rates in February.
Although solid, the pace of output growth was the softest recorded for four months.
Total new work meanwhile rose sharply overall, despite the rate of expansion easing from January’s 41-month record.
Stronger demand at home and abroad was widely cited by panellists in the latest survey period.
Growth in new export sales was also sharp in February, despite softening from a sevenyear peak.
With new orders rising to a greater extent than output, backlogs of work continued to increase.
Notably, the rate of accumulation was the most marked since March 2010.
Greater new business also led firms to expand their purchasing activity in February, and to the greatest extent since January 2011.
As a result, stocks of purchased items increased at the fastest pace since May 2011.
Manufacturers also added to their workforce numbers in February.
Although the rate of payroll growth eased to a four-month low, it remained strong overall.
A combination of increased demand for inputs and stock shortages at vendors led to a further deterioration in average supplier performance in February.
Notably, the rate at which lead times lengthened was similar to that seen in January and sharp.
Manufacturers in Taiwan signalled a further sharp rise in average cost burdens, with the rate of input price inflation among the sharpest recorded for seven years.
Panellists overwhelmingly linked higher costs to a broad-based rise in raw material prices.
Consequently, companies raised their factory gate charges again in February, and to the greatest extent since March 2011.
Business sentiment picked up to a ten-month high in February, with a number of companies expecting improving global demand to lift output over the next year. ■ What to read next
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