11 Mar 2016

Manufacturers' 'fear factor' peaked in February

4:13 pm on 11 March 2016

Activity in the manufacturing sector has dipped a touch, as the ructions in global markets unsettle businesses.

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The BNZ-Business New Zealand Performance of Manufacturing Index fell two points in February to 56, after a slight rise the month before.

A reading above 50 indicates expansion.

The employment index dropped below that marker to 48.5 - the only sub-index to fall into contraction.

BNZ senior economist Doug Steel said manufacturers were more cautious last month.

"Maybe the fear factor has certainly come back a bit in the last few weeks and given that this PMI survey was conducted for the month of February when that fear factor was at a peak, maybe that just caused manufacturers to be a little bit hesitant in hiring more staff at that particular moment," he said.

Given the uncertainty has dwindled since then, there might be a bounce back in employment in the coming surveys, Mr Steel said.