Johannesburg – Private sector expanded at a much slower rate in November, largely due to weaker growth in output and new orders, a survey showed on Wednesday.

The HSBC Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) slipped to 50.5 in November from 52.7 in October as the expansions in output and new orders fell to their lowest levels in three and four months, respectively.

“External demand is positive but remains fragile as new export orders expanded for a third consecutive month, albeit at

a marginal pace,” HSBC economist David Faulkner said. “With inventory levels elevated relative to new orders, we do not expect much of a near-term rebound in output.” With output and new orders subdued, there was little

appetite for companies to take on new workers, with the employment subindex for the private sector stagnating at 50.0, down from 52.6 in October, HSBC said.

The PMI is a weighted average of new orders, output, employment, suppliers’ delivery times and stocks of purchases in the private sector. Readings above 50.0 signal improvements in business conditions while those below show a deterioration.