South African private sector activity expanded again in January, albeit marginally, as firms completing outstanding orders helped output increase by its most in four years, a survey showed on Wednesday.
IHS Markit’s Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) rose to 50.8 in January from 50.2 in December, above the 50 level that denotes expansion for the fourth month in a row.
The modest jump in the output sub-index, to its highest since December 2016, was mainly driven by the completion of outstanding business. Firms continued to struggle to find new work due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with new orders continuing to contract.
“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,” said IHS Markit economist David Owen.
South Africa, which has recorded the most Covid-19 infections and deaths on the African continent, with more than 1.4 million cases and over 44 000 deaths to date, received its first batch of coronavirus vaccines on Monday.