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Media Release

Divergence shows in latest CBA flash PMI data

Divergence shows in latest CBA flash PMI data

The manufacturing and services sectors appear to be on a diverging path in the early part of Q4.

New 'flash' estimates of the CBA PMIs are being produced, reflecting the need for up-to-the-minute data on the economy, Commonwealth Bank's Chief Economist Michael Blythe said.

The new “flash” CBA Composite Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) released today showed an easing from 52.5 in September to 51.2 in October – within the total, manufacturing picked up, but services slowed further, he said.

"While slower, both sectors are still expanding. Both sectors are reporting strong jobs growth and new orders continue to lift, so the outlook for the remainder of 2018 is still positive." 

However, Blythe noted that some respondents see downside risks from greater regulation of the finance sector. 

"The lift in business capex over the past year appears to have eased earlier capacity constraints. Measures of the backlog of work have fallen and now sit at neutral levels," he said.

"Nevertheless, input and output prices are rising at a solid pace. Higher fuel prices and staff costs are still flowing through and the recent drop in the AUD [Australian dollar] appears to be having an impact as well."

Why are PMIs important?

The PMIs are important because they cover key areas of the economy.

They are part of the global suite of PMI releases published by IHS Markit.

Manufacturing activity tends to be cyclical in nature, so turning points in the CBA Manufacturing PMI can provide early warning signals of turns in the business cycle more generally. 

Services activity tends to be less cyclical and is on a long‑run structural uptrend, so the level of the CBA Services PMI is important when assessing the resilience of the Australian economy more broadly.

How are the PMIs calculated?

The PMI surveys cover senior purchasing managers in 400 Australian companies in the manufacturing and service sectors each month. The survey began in May 2016.

Manufacturers are surveyed each month on how output, orders, jobs, delivery times and stocks have changed relative to the previous month.

The survey results are presented as diffusion indexes. These indexes have leading indicator properties and show the direction of change. A reading above 50 indicates expansion. The further above (below) 50, the stronger the expansion (contraction).

The CBA PMI surveys cover manufacturing and services, or close to 75 per cent of GDP [gross domestic product].

The ability to access 80‑85 per cent of survey results earlier means that reliable 'flash' estimates can be published sooner. It brings the Australian survey into line with flash estimates for the Eurozone and Japan.