ATHENS (Reuters) - Greek factory activity grew steadily in July, with production and new orders increasing, leading companies to hire more staff, a survey showed on Wednesday.
Markit’s Purchasing Managers’ Index for manufacturing, which accounts for about 10 percent of the Greek economy, was unchanged in July at 53.5, above the 50 line denoting expansions in activity. The manufacturing sector has improved steadily since June 2017.
“Growth remained strong in July. Rates of expansion in output and new orders eased, partly reflecting a weaker expansion in new export orders,” said Andrew Harker, IHS Markit associate director.
Driving the 14th straight month of growth in output were increased new orders at home and from abroad. Export business grew but at a softer pace than June.
With raw materials prices continuing to rise at a fast pace at the start of the third quarter, some firms were able to pass their higher cost burdens on to customers.
“Input costs continued to rise at a sharp pace, posing a potential threat to new order growth going forward,” Harker said. “Nevertheless, a sharp and accelerated rise in average charges suggests client demand for Greek goods remains robust.”
Manufacturing jobs continued to increase in July, extending a trend seen since May last year, with many firms maintaining a fairly upbeat outlook on production growth in the coming year, the survey showed.
Greece’s jobless rate, at 20.2 percent in April, is the highest in the euro zone. A debt crisis in late 2009 led to a long recession and multiple bailouts. Athens plans to exit its third rescue program in August.
Reporting by George Georgiopoulos; Editing by Hugh Lawson