South Africa’s private sector expanded for the fourth month in a row and at a faster pace in January, survey data from IHS Markit showed on Wednesday.

The headline Purchasing Managers’ Index rose to 50.8 in January from 50.2 in December. Any reading above 50 indicates expansion in the sector.

New orders increased in January and the overall sales remained broadly unchanged for the second straight month. New export orders declined at the sharpest rate in four months.

The number of employed decreased in January and the rate of reduction accelerated for the first time since May last year. Backlogs of work dropped at the quickest rate since September last year.

Purchasing activity declined for the second straight month in January.

Purchasing cost increased at the fastest rate since October 2018. Selling charges rose for the fifth month in a row, but at a softer pace.

The 12-month outlook for the business activity improved in January with the hopes of an easing Covid-19 restrictions in 2021.

“Despite output expanding for only the second time in 21 months, businesses hope that growth will be more consistent over 2021, amid optimism that the COVID-19 pandemic will recede as vaccines are more widely distributed,” IHS economist David Owen said.

The material has been provided by InstaForex Company – www.instaforex.com

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