The official manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) posted 58.7 last month, falling from 61 in April, as local manufacturers reported a softer, but solid improvement in operating conditions, the Chung-Hua Institution for Economic Research (CIER, 中華經濟研究院) said yesterday.
The latest PMI data lent support to a continued recovery in the global technology cycle, but uncertainty has mounted over the launch of Apple Inc’s next iPhone model due to reported technology snags, CIER president Wu Chung-shu (吳中書) told a news conference.
Local and international media have said Apple might have to delay mass production of its new iPhone from September to October or November, as it has failed to overcome hurdles related to touch-identification features.
“Uncertainty gains strength and diversity as the high sales season approaches,” Wu said.
Local technology firms supply chips, camera lenses, casings, batteries, touch screens and other critical components used in iPhones and might take a hit if Apple delays the production of the new model.
Regardless of the new iPhone’s launch, sales of technology products generally fare better in the second half compared with the first, Wu said, adding that the seasonal trend has remained on track so far this year.
The PMI aims to gauge the health of the manufacturing industry, with scores above 50 indicating expansion and scores below the threshold suggesting contraction.
Despite last month’s decline, the leading barometer rose for the 15th consecutive month as firms in all sectors reported business expansions, thanks to robust demand from clients at home and abroad, the CIER survey found.
The critical sub-index on new orders registered 57.3 last month even though firms involved in the supply of basic materials had slipped into contraction mode, according to the survey.
“Seasonality varies for different sectors,” Wu said.
Makers of electronic and optical devices, the main growth driver for the nation’s economy, showed the best performance with a PMI of 63.2, the survey found.
The output sub-index shed 5.2 points to 60 last month, while employment gained 0.4 percentage points to 60.4, both comfortably above the neutral mark, it said.
Most firms have positive views about their business outlook, tipping the six-month outlook sub-index to 61.1, from 63.2 in April.
The non-manufacturing industry also benefited from the recovering economy with the non-manufacturing index falling from April’s 56.3 to 55.4 last month, a separate report found.
While domestic demand accounts for a lion’s share of GDP, exports tend to affect its showing and the uptrend reflects benign external demand, Wu said.
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