Business Confidence in Nigeria Falls in February Amid Rise in Input Costs

March 1, 2024
Business Confidence in Nigeria

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

Business conditions in Nigeria slowed to 51.0 in February 2024 from 54.5 in January 2024, as price pressures intensified in the private sector at an unprecedented pace in over a decade of data collection, the Stanbic IBTC Bank Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) has revealed.

A statement from the lender disclosed that the improvement in business conditions was the weakest since the recovery in the private sector began last December.

It stated that input costs surged higher in the period under consideration as a result of higher fuel prices and exchange rate weakness, which drove up material costs.

The latest rise in overall input costs was by far the sharpest since the survey began in January 2014, with around 78 per cent of respondents signalling an increase over the month.

It was observed that both input costs and output prices increased at the sharpest rates on record, with rising prices impacting demand. As a result, rates of expansion in output and new orders slowed sharply over the month, while employment decreased for the first time in 10 months, as business confidence dropped to the lowest on record.

The report stated that output price inflation also hit a fresh record high in February as firms passed through rising input costs to their customers.

Steep price pressures acted to limit new orders in the private sector. Although new business increased for the third successive month amid some positive signs of underlying demand, the rate of expansion slowed sharply and was the weakest in this sequence.

This was also the case with business activity, which increased only slightly, as rising activity in the agriculture and services sectors contrasted with falls in manufacturing and wholesale & retail.

Signs of weakness in the private sector led companies to lower their staffing levels for the first time in ten months, albeit marginally.

Purchasing activity was also scaled back following a marked expansion in the previous survey period. Firms were able to keep on top of workloads, however, and reduced outstanding business for the first time in three months.

A desire to be able to respond to new orders promptly meant that companies continued to increase their inventories. Meanwhile, suppliers’ delivery times shortened again.

Unprecedented inflationary pressures amid currency weakness and signs of demand softening meant that business confidence dropped to the lowest on record in February.

Firms remained optimistic regarding the year-ahead outlook for activity, however, often reflecting business expansion plans and hopes for an improvement in economic conditions.

“Stanbic IBTC Bank headline PMI slowed to its weakest level since December 23, moderating remarkably to 51.0 in February from 54.5 in January.

“Employment level dropped below the 50.0 no-change mark for the first time in 10 months while the output and new order’s expansion both weakened significantly in the month.

“These weaknesses were in line with the sharp local currency depreciation, increase in fuel prices, and rapidly rising food costs in February, thereby driving overall cost pressures in the month.

“These lingering pressures may push domestic demand low, limiting growth potentials in Q1 of 24,” the Head of Equity Research for West Africa at Stanbic IBTC Bank, Mr Muyiwa Oni, said.

Modupe Gbadeyanka

Modupe Gbadeyanka is a fast-rising journalist with Business Post Nigeria. Her passion for journalism is amazing. She is willing to learn more with a view to becoming one of the best pen-pushers in Nigeria. Her role models are the duo of CNN's Richard Quest and Christiane Amanpour.

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