MANUFACTURING sales surged 11.7% to RM30.5bil in October from RM27.3bil recorded during the same month last year on strong demand for Malaysian-made goods.
The performance represented the second consecutive month of double-digit growth by the local manufacturing sector.
External demand was clearly the engine of growth given October's 7.2% year-on-year rise in gross exports,'' MIDF Sisma Securities economist Azrul Azwar said.
He pointed out that the October figures had closely tracked the 14.6% year-on-year spurt in production output, which helped extinguish worries about a potential inventory pile-up.
While the October sales value was 1.6% lower compared to September's three-year high RM31bil, the minor drop is not a cause for concern since it came off an elevated base,'' he said.
And by remaining above the RM30bil threshold for the second straight month, indications are that Malaysian-made goods had maintained its marketability in both local and overseas markets.
It shows that the manufacturing sector is entering a robust growth period,'' Affin-UOB Securities economist Suhaimi Ilias said.
He noted that employment figures pointed to a sixth straight month of increase, a signal that manufacturers are hiring more workers in anticipation of higher demand going forward.
The total number of employees engaged in the manufacturing sector rose 2.3% in October compared to the same period last year and was 0.04% higher compared to the September figure.
Moving forward, we believe made-in-Malaysia manufactured products should be able to draw strength from an expected increase in tech spending, global capex recovery and solid demand from abroad, not to mention the dynamism of domestic consumers,'' Azrul said.
He expects full-year growth in manufacturing sales for 2003 will gravitate to around 10%, even if the numbers for the remaining two months fall below the RM30bil range.
For the first ten months of the year, the manufacturing sector recorded a cumulative sales value of RM281.3bil, which was 10% higher compared with the corresponding period in 2002.
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