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Business conditions continued to improve markedly in the Nigerian private sector during November amid improving demand and higher customer numbers. In turn, firms expanded their purchasing activity and employment. That said, business confidence dropped to the lowest since the survey began in January 2014. Meanwhile, inflationary pressures remained elevated, often reflecting currency weakness.
The headline figure derived from the survey is the Purchasing Managers’ Index™ (PMI®). Readings above 50.0 signal an improvement in business conditions on the previous month, while readings below 50.0 show a deterioration.
The headline PMI rose to 54.3 in November from 53.6 in October, pointing to a solid monthly improvement in business conditions in the Nigerian private sector. The health of the private sector has now strengthened in 29 successive months, with the latest improvement the most pronounced since April.
New business increased at the fastest pace in six months amid reports of stronger demand and higher customer numbers. Companies responded to rising demand by increasing their business activity accordingly. Output has now risen in each of the past five months.
Marked increases in activity were seen across each of the four broad sectors covered by the survey. New order growth also encouraged companies to expand their employment and purchasing activity midway through the final quarter of the year.
Staffing levels increased for the twenty-second month running and at the fastest pace since August. Meanwhile, the rate of growth in purchasing activity was the steepest in four months. Similarly, inventories also expanded at a marked pace.
Purchase costs rose at a sharper pace as weakness of the Nigerian naira against the US dollar exacerbated rising raw material prices. Staff costs were also up, linked both to higher staffing levels and efforts to motivate workers by increasing wages.
The passing on of higher input costs to customers meant that output prices also increased markedly, with the rate of inflation quickening to a three-month high.
Despite the generally positive picture for output and new orders in November, business confidence continued to decline. Optimism dropped for the fourth successive month and was the lowest since the survey began in January 2014. Those firms that were confident in the year-ahead outlook for output mentioned business expansion plans and hopes for a further strengthening of demand.