The headline Nikkei Malaysia Manufacturing PMI - a composite single-figure indicator of manufacturing performance - fell from 52.0 in November to 49.9 in December. The latest survey showed the new orders sub-index, a proxy for domestic demand, also rose to 56.8 in December, the highest since October 2016.
Meanwhile, the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) continued to exert upward pressure on manufacturers cost burdens in December. As a outcome, the sector observed a modest increase in pre-production inventories for the first-time since June.
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Businesses would remain positive in terms of output over the next 12 months. Although the rate of inflation quickened to a 10-month high, it was modest and weaker than the long-run series average.
Andrew Harker, associate director at IHS Markit, which compiles the survey, said "The Vietnamese manufacturing sector recorded a welcome return to growth of output in December, supported by a solid and accelerated increase in new orders". The increase was driven by stronger new order growth and the fastest rise in employment in the sector since the survey began in 1998. "Anecdotal evidence pointed to stronger market demand from home and global markets", said Aashna Dodhia, economist at IHS Markit, which compiles the survey.
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However, input costs rose at their fastest pace in nine months, as prices for raw materials rose.
"Given the strong conditions evident in the manufacturing sector, it is no surprise to see that firms are upbeat about the outlook, with more than six times as many companies expecting to see growth in 2018 as opposed to those who anticipate a decline", said Investec Ireland chief economist Philip O'Sullivan.
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