Ireland and Germany see growth in manufacturing
Businesses in Ireland have reported "signs of strengthening demand and the securing of new clients"
Ireland and Germany were the only two euro zone countries not to report a fall in manufacturing activity last month.
The latest purchasing managers’ reports for February reflect the uneven nature of the recovery on factory floors across Europe.
The rate of growth in Ireland’s sector accelerated again last month with the NCB Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) rising to 51.5, up from 50.3 in January.
Manufacturing activity in Ireland has now expanded for 12 successive months.
A breakdown of the numbers showed new orders expanded in February, following a marginal contraction in January, with businesses reporting “signs of strengthening demand and the securing of new clients”.
The survey showed Irish manufacturers also increased their staffing levels in February as employment returned to growth following a decrease in January.
The NCB’s sub-index for output rose for a 10th successive month in February, while new export orders were broadly unchanged after rising slightly the previous month.
“With the headline PMI reading pointing to a 12th successive month of growth for the Irish manufacturing sector, and the rate of expansion improving from the nine- month low in January, this is a solid outturn,” said NCB’s chief economist Philip O’Sullivan.
In contrast to Ireland, manufacturing activity for the 17-nation euro area continued to contract last month, with a dire performance in France offsetting a return to growth in Germany.
Markit’s Eurozone Manufacturing PMI remained at January’s 47.9 last month, holding below the 50 level that divides growth from contraction for the 19th month running.
On a positive note the sub-index of new export orders, which is often seen as a guide to future activity, jumped to 51.7 in February from 49.5 – its first time above 50 since June 2011.
The surveys showed manufacturing activity in France, the euro zone’s second biggest economy, has now contracted for a year, while German manufacturing expanded for the first time since February last year.
Germany’s PMI bounced to 50.3 from January’s reading of 49.8, while France’s reading came in at 43.9, above the previous month’s 42.9 but well below the 50 mark for the 12th month in a row.
PMIs from Spain and Italy showed activity in their manufacturing sectors deteriorated again, with the situation worsening in Italy.
The pace of growth in the US manufacturing sector grew at its fastest rate in over a year and a half in February as new orders continued to accelerate. The Institute for Supply Management said its index of national factory activity rose to 54.2 from 53.1 in January, its highest level since June 2011.
In Britain a shock fall in manufacturing activity fuelled fears the country may be heading back into recession.
The latest Markit/CIPS purchasing managers’ index for Britain revealed that overall activity contracted as output fell, with a headline reading of 47.9 in February. The index slipped into the red for the first time since last November, with UK manufacturers reporting tough trading conditions.
In China, factory growth slowed to a five-month low last month, according to its National Bureau of Statistics.