South Africa Manufacturing Production Drops 2.2% in March

South African manufacturing output unexpectedly fell 2.2 percent in March as weak domestic and global growth curbed demand.

Factory output declined after revised contraction of 2.8 percent in February, Pretoria-based Statistics South Africa said on its website today. The median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of 14 economists was 1.8 percent growth. Output dropped 2.5 percent in the month.

A recession in Europe, which accounts for a fifth of South African exports, and local labor unrest have curbed growth and undermined consumer confidence. The Reserve Bank has kept the benchmark interest rate at a more-than-30-year low of 5 percent since July to boost spending. Manufacturing makes up about 15 percent of South Africa’s gross domestic product.

While the rand’s 5.7 percent slump against the dollar this year should have boosted the competitiveness of the nation’s exports, waning demand from Europe has curbed growth in shipments, while the cost of imports have risen.

To contact the reporter on this story: Franz Wild in Johannesburg at fwild@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Nasreen Seria at nseria@bloomberg.net

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