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Health affected by continuous services contraction: Aust PSI

07 October, 2014

The health and community services sub-sector contracted for the first time in 15 months in what was generally a mediocre month for the services sector.

The very large health and community services sub-sector was down 7.2 points to 45.5.

The Australian Industry Group Australian Performance of Services Index (Australian PSI) dropped 4.0 points to 45.4 points in September.

It was the seventh consecutive month of contraction for the services sector (index readings below 50 points indicate a contraction in activity, with the distance from 50 indicative of the strength of the contraction).

With the exception of employment (up 4.0 points to 52.1), all activity sub-indexes were below 50 points in September, with both the sales (down 9.9 points to 41.5) and new orders (down 8.4 points to 44.0) sub-indexes falling sharply after promising results in August.

Five of the nine services sub-sectors showed mild expansion this month, although this was largely confined to consumer-oriented sub-sectors; while property and business services (up 2.2 points to 50.8) stabilised, other business-oriented services sub-sectors reported reduced workflow amid lower engineering construction and manufacturing activity. 

"The drop in the Australian PSI in September calls into question the momentum that had been gathering over the previous couple of months," Ai Group Chief Executive, Innes Willox, said.

"With commodity prices falling and global markets displaying greater volatility, it has become more important that we develop new areas of strength in the domestic economy."

Australian PSI – Key Findings for September:

  • The Australian PSI dropped 4.0 points to 45.4 in September and has now contracted for seven consecutive months.
  • Both the sales (down 9.9 points to 41.5) and new orders (down 8.4 points to 44.0) sub-indexes dropped sharply this month after mild expansion in August.
  • Services businesses continued to reduce supplier deliveries and stock levels, with the supplier deliveries sub-index declining marginally by 0.3 points to 44.9 in September, and the stocks (inventories) sub-index slipping 4.4 points to 42.5.
  • The selling prices sub-index continued to contract (up 2.4 points to 48.4) – services businesses remain under significant margin pressure as wages (54.2) and other input costs (58.5) rise.
  • The retail trade sub-index in the Australian PSI expanded mildly for the first time in more than three years, rising 2.5 points to 52.0. Wholesale trade, which last expanded in February 2011, dropped 0.7 points to 42.7.
  • The finance and insurance sub-sector expanded for a 12th consecutive month but at a slower pace (down 5.8 points to 54.8) – perhaps reflecting weak local share market performance.
  • Health and community services contracted for the first time in 15 months, falling 7.2 points to 45.

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