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Australia’s manufacturing sector records longest period of growth in a decade

Author Rebecca Hyam ABC New

Australia’s manufacturing sector has achieved 12 straight months of expansion to record the longest unbroken period of growth in a decade.

The latest Performance of Manufacturing Index by the Australian Industry Group shows a rise of 0.8 points in June, to 51.8.

Readings above 50 indicate expansion.

Ai Group chief executive Innes Willox said local manufacturers had capitalised on a number of elements in the current financial year, including the depreciation in the local currency.

“It was a year in which manufacturers took advantage of the boost to competitiveness from the lower Australian dollar, both in the domestic market and in export markets,” he said.

The index shows new orders rose by 1.9 points to 54.1 last month, in a positive forward indicator for manufacturing.

The manufacturing selling prices sub-index also expanded in June, with a rise of 2.4 points to 53.

That was the strongest result for selling prices since March 2011.

Mr Willox said it was encouraging to see some of the recently embattled sub-sectors return to growth in June.

“The metal products sub-sector, which has been heavily impacted by adverse global conditions in recent times, recorded its first expansion since September 2010,” he said.

“The important food and beverages sub-sector continued in positive territory, although there are now signs of a slowdown.

“The machinery and equipment sub-sector was weaker — in part due to the low levels of business investment across the economy, and the gradual wind-down of auto assembly.”

There was some volatility in wages growth throughout the sector, with that sub-index slumping 5.8 points to 55.5.