JOHANNESBURG, Oct 11 (Reuters) - South Africa's manufacturing output beat market expectations in August, growing by 3.0 percent year-on-year in volume terms compared with a revised 6.3 percent rise in July, data showed on Thursday.
On a month-on-month basis production rose by a seasonally adjusted 3.0 percent and grew by 0.9 percent in the three months to August compared with the previous quarter, Statistics South Africa said.
Economists polled by Reuters earlier this week expected a 1.1 percent year-on-year contraction in August.
ANALYST COMMENT NICKY WEIMAR, SENIOR ECONOMIST, NEDBANK
"The challenges remain exactly the same, I don't think the latest statistics changed that at all.
"You still have an economy that is growing quite moderately, and areas of the economy are under very definite stress, especially mining production. Consequently, there's still a lot of downside risk to growth no matter how you look at it.
"We've got the challenges of the strikes in the short term and over the longer term we have a world economy that remains quite constrained and damaged.
"Right now, the Reserve Bank is likely to stay with interest rates unchanged, but warn of the risk of a weaker rand, high commodity prices on inflation in the future."
SALOMI ODENDAAL, ECONOMIST, CITADEL
"Under the circumstances it's a positive number because the manufacturing sector is having quite a difficult time as a result of the depreciation especially in Europe and also local demand that remains rather lacklustre.
"We expect the manufacturing sector to keep growing, but at a fairly slow rate. We don't expect any sharp pick-up in growth.
"We don't think there will be any change in interest rates unless there is some really negative happenings globally that will have some real negative impacts on South Africa - the labour strife adds uncertainty - but at the moment we don't see any change in the short term."
CHRISTIE VILJOEN, ECONOMIST, NKC INDEPENDENT ECONOMISTS
"The month on month number looks good, which can help explain why the year on year growth is better than expected.
"This was definitely not expected considering the problems in the mining sector that started in August would have had an impact in manufacturing as well.
"In the past three months production increased 0.9 percent from the preceding three months. We should take that as a positive considering all the negative international news that's telling us that the exports aren't doing that well and that exports might affect consumer confidence."
The rand weakened to 8.7301 against the dollar at 1130 GMT from 8.6969 before the data was released at 1100 GMT.
The yield on the three-year bond edged up to 5.41 percent from 5.405 percent and that for the 14-year bond
ticked up to 7.715 percent from 7.71 percent.
- The manufacturing sector contributes about 15 percent of gross domestic product and is key for creating employment in an economy with an official jobless rate of about a quarter of the labour force.
- Output increased by 2.5 percent in 2011, only half of the expansion seen in 2010, Statistics South Africa data shows.
- South Africa plans to spend 5.8 billion rand over the next three years to help manufacturers affected by the global economic downturn upgrade their factories, improve products and train workers.
(Reporting by Tshepo Tshabalala and Xola Potelwa)
Keywords: SAFRICA MANUFACTURING/