The productivity of Australia's manufacturers in November has slightly improved for the first time since July, a new report released on Monday has revealed.
The Australian Industry Group Australian Performance of Manufacturing Index increased by 0.7 points to 50.1 in November, indicating the slightest of expansions across the manufacturing sector (readings above 50 indicate an expansion in activity).
Two of the five activity sub-indexes were above 50 points this month, with new orders up 3.1 points to 54.3 and supplier deliveries climbing 7.2 points to 52.1. In contrast, the production, stocks and exports sub-indexes all declined below 50 points following very mild expansion in October, while manufacturing employment and sales continued to contract.
Among the eight manufacturing sub-sectors, four expanded in November including large food, beverages and tobacco (up 2.4 points to 59.1 points) and the smaller wood and paper products (up 2.1 points to 61.6 points).
Conditions also improved in the textiles, clothing and furniture (up 7.3 points to 54.4) and non-metallic mineral products (up 5.0 points to 50.2).
Australian Industry Group chief executive, Innes Willox, said while the improvement in manufacturing activity in November was slight, the lift in new orders were welcome signs of the resilience of the sector in the face of still-testing conditions.
"The lower dollar, an easing in energy costs, moderate wages growth and relatively low interest rates are all helping to underpin the sector's performance," he said in a statement.