February 3, 2017 / 8:31 AM / a year ago

RPT-South Africa's private sector expands at slower pace in January

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LONDON, Feb 3 (Reuters) - JOHANNESBURG, Feb 3 (Reuters) - Activity in South Africa’s private sector remained in growth territory in January but dipped from December as demand for exports sank, a survey showed on Friday.

The Standard Bank Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), compiled by Markit edged down to 51.3 from 51.6, remaining above the 50 mark dividing expansion from contraction for a fifth consecutive month.

“January’s expansion in economic activity extended December’s trend, further supporting the idea that domestic growth may have troughed,” said economist at Standard Bank Kuvasha Naidoo.

Companies surveyed reported a marginal increase in new business and output in January, but that was countered by a decrease in exports, with some firms citing the loss of major international contracts.

“Exports continued to suffer, recording an accelerated pace of contraction... This was while overall demand continued to expand, albeit at a slower pace,” Naidoo said.

Trade data published by the revenue service on Tuesday showed exports down 6.1 percent month-on-month in January, while subdued consumer and business confidence dampened imports as low activity continued to strangle growth in Africa’s most industrialised economy.

The South African Reserve Bank (SARB) last week lowered its economic growth estimates to 1.1 percent for 2017 and 1.6 percent for 2018.

* Detailed PMI data are only available under licence from Markit and customers need to apply to Markit for a licence. To subscribe to the full data, click on the link below: www.markit.com/Contact-Us

* For further information, please phone Markit on +44 20 7260 2454 or email economics@markit.com (Reporting by Mfuneko Toyana; editing by John Stonestreet) (Edited by Jeremy Gaunt)

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