SA’s PMI at highest this year, says new HSBC survey

South Africa's purchasing managers' index (PMI) rose to the highest this year as strikes that cut production in gold and auto industries ended and domestic demand increased, HSBC Holdings said in a new survey.

The seasonally adjusted index rose to 51.5 in October from 49.8 in the previous month, HSBC said in Johannesburg on Tuesday.

The gauge measures 400 private companies in South Africa's construction, manufacturing, mining, retail and service industries. "It marks a pick-up in fourth-quarter growth in what is likely to have been a strike-interrupted third quarter," David Faulkner, HSBC's economist for sub-Saharan Africa, told reporters. "It's still a relatively weak number." 

The government estimates Africa's largest economy will expand 2.1% this year, the slowest pace since a 2009 recession, before rebounding to 3% next year. While the economy will improve in the fourth quarter, it is not a turning point, Faulkner said. "The combination of sluggish household consumption and sluggish private investment combined to bring down our forecast for domestic demand" next year, he said.

HSBC is forecasting economic growth of 2.7% next year as consumers rein in spending due to debt levels that are currently 75% of disposable income, Faulkner said. Households have only reduced debt by five percentage points from their peak of 80% in 2007, he said.

The rand has dropped 17% against the dollar this year, making it the worst performer among 16 major currencies tracked by Bloomberg.

HSBC's PMI index for South Africa is one of 17 emerging- market indexes and is compiled by Markit Economics. Kagiso Tiso Holdings publishes a monthly manufacturing PMI, which rose to 50.7 in October from revised 50 in previous month. – Bloomberg

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