Today's release of the NCB Manufacturing PMI data for Ireland for August 2012 came in with both a positive and a negative surprises. The positive side of the news is that the headline index did not dip below 50 (contraction territory) but stayed at 50.9 in August, down on 53.9 in July, but above 49.7 in August 2011. In other words, the rate of Manufacturing sector growth has slowed down markedly, but remained positive in August.
The slowdown is significant, however, with current reading (50.9) not statistically distinguishable from zero growth level of 50.0, against statistically significant expansion recored in July.
Here is core stats summary:
- Headline seasonally adjusted PMI is now running at below 3mo MA (52.6), and 6mo MA (51.8). However, thanks to July reading, Q3-to-date average is at 52.4 (statistically above 50.0) and well ahead of 51.5 in Q2 and 49.8 in Q1.
- August marked the 6th consecutive month of above 50 readings.
- New Orders sub-index also fell in August from 55.8 in July to 51.8 in August. Again, August reading was not statistically significantly different from 50.0. 3mo MA is now at 53.7 and 6mo MA is at 52.7. Q3 to-date average is 53.8 and this is well ahead of Q2 2012 average of 52.0 and Q1 2012 average of 49.9.
- New Export Orders sub-index also posted moderation in growth from July 56.7 to August 53.4, although 53.4 remains a solid signal of expansion. August now marks 6th consecutive month of the sub-index above 50 readings. 3mo MA is at 54.2 and close to 6mo MA of 54.0. Q3 2012 average to-date is at brisque 55.1 against Q2 2012 average of 52.8 and Q1 average of 51.9.
- One has to keep in mind that the above performance puts Irish manufacturing sector activity well ahead of the euro zone peers and our exporting performance well above the entire EU member states' performance.
Chart to illustrate:
Output sub-index confirmed the above trends, slipping from 54 in July to 51 in August. Again, expansion is not significantly different from zero, but still good to see the index staying above 50 in level terms. 3mo MA is at 53.2 and 6mo MA at 52.0. Quarter to quarter changes are: Q1 2012 average of 50.2, Q2 2012 average of 51.4 and Q3 2012 average of 52.4.
Chart below snapshots core series trends over shorter horizon:
Chart below shows time series for other sub-indices.
Quick synopsis of changes in prices and employment. As usual, I will be doing more detailed analysis of profitability and employment after we have Services PMI data as well, so stay tuned:
- Output prices have continued decline, albeit at slower pace than in July, while input prices returned to rapid inflation (56.8 in August from 47.8 in July).
- 3mo MA for input prices is now at 51.4 against 48.6 3moMA for output prices.
- This points to shrinking profit margins. However, the pace of margins contraction is now slower than in Q1 and Q2.
- Manufacturing sector employment posted another (6th consecutive monthly) expansion in August, though the rate of growth in employment has moderated from 53.1 in July to 51.1 in June. Q3 average-to-date is at 52.1 which is down on 54.4 for Q2.
So overall, the data coming out in August is a mixed bag. Comparative to the euro area peers, manufacturing in Ireland is doing as well as can be hoped for. Alas, the rates of economic growth we require to sustain our debt deleveraging are hardly benchmarkable against our peers. And on that side, things are not encouraging.
Let's wait for Services data next...