The official manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) rose to 55.8 last month, retaining its expansion for the 12th consecutive month, driven mainly by robust demand for electronic and optical devices from overseas and domestic markets, the Chung-Hua Institution for Economic Research (CIER, 中華經濟研究院) said yesterday.
The latest PMI data suggests the nation’s export-focused economy remains on the course of recovery, as the manufacturing sector accounted for the bulk of exports.
Firms in all manufacturing sectors reported a solid increase in new orders, with the exception of food and textile makers due to the slow season, the survey found.
The survey aims to gauge the changes in of the manufacturing industry, with scores above 50 indicating expansion and values below the threshold suggesting a decline.
The pickup in new business is particularly strong for local suppliers of electronics and optical devices, with the new order index accelerating to 63.1, CIER president Wu Chung-shu (吳中書) said.
Taiwan is home to the world’s largest contract chipmakers and chip designers as well as vendors of camera lenses used in smartphones and connected vehicles. International clients have indicated plans to upgrade the quality and number of camera lenses for their next-generation products.
To meet growing demand, firms in all sectors hired more workers, lifting the employment index from 52.8 to 55.8 for the past month, the survey said.
The trend pushed raw material prices higher, with the index climbing from 76.1 to 76.4, the highest level since the survey’s launch in July 2012, as firms accepted price hikes on expectations of more business orders, Wu said.
All manufacturing sectors expect business to advance in the coming six months, with the business outlook index rising from 61.5 to 64.4, the survey showed.
The upbeat sentiment is broad-based, although somewhat moderate for food and textile makers and basic raw material suppliers, the survey found.
The uptrend did not extend to the whole economy, as the non-manufacturing index (NMI) fell from 54.1 to the contraction territory of 48.5, according to a separate survey.
Wu attributed the deterioration to the traditional slow season for service-oriented firms after the Lunar New Year holiday.
Hotels and restaurants reported the worst business decline, followed by transportation service providers, the NMI survey showed, as people emerged from the holiday mood.
The business slowdown is likely temporary, as many firms expect a recovery in the coming six months, boosting the business outlook index to 51.5, the survey said.
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