December 7, 2023

The start of the fourth quarter has revealed a solid improvement in the health of Nigeria’s private sector as output and new orders rose sharply, Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) report for October has shown.

The report also said purchasing activity increased at an accelerated pace within the coverage period.

On the price front, price pressures showed further signs of abating with the overall rate of input cost inflation the weakest for three months, but still marked by historical standards. Selling prices were also raised, albeit at a softer rate than that seen in September.

At the same time, backlogs increased for the second month in a row, with sustained accumulation of outstanding business suggesting that hiring activity could continue in the months ahead.

The headline figure derived from the survey is the Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI). Readings above 50.0 signal an improvement in business conditions on the previous month, while readings below 50.0 show a deterioration.

According to Stanbic IBTC, the headline PMI posted at 53.6 in October, little-changed from 53.7 in September, indicating a solid improvement in the health of the private sector.

A key driver of growth was a sharp rise in new orders following reports of favourable and improving market conditions.

In turn, firms raised their output levels and for the fourth month in a row. Moreover, the rate of increase was quicker than the long-run series average. Manufacturing firms registered the strongest increase in output, followed by services, wholesale & retail and finally agriculture.

Backlogs increased for the second month in a row during October, but the rate of increase eased from that in September. Firms subsequently continued hiring activity, but the rate of growth was mild, and the joint-weakest in the current 21-month sequence of job creation.

Sustained expansions in new orders led Nigerian private sector firms to raise their purchasing activity, with the rate of growth quickening on the month.

Pre-production inventories also rose robustly, with the rate of growth quickening to a three-month high amid firms’ efforts to boost their stockpiles.

Supply-chain performance improved, with lead times now shortening in each month for the last five years. Meanwhile, prices data revealed another month of overall input price inflation.

It said that higher purchase and staff costs underpinned the latest rise which eased from September, but was sharp and historically elevated, nevertheless.

Selling prices also rose, but at the weakest pace for almost two years.

Whilst firms maintained an optimistic view towards output in the next 12 months, the degree of positivity was the second lowest in the series history, with that only recorded in September 2020 weaker.

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