MEXICO CITY Feb 1 The pace of growth in Mexico's manufacturing sector declined in January, breaking a three-month expansion streak, as new export orders fell for the first time in more than a year, a survey showed on Friday.
The HSBC Mexico Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) dipped to 55.0 in January, after adjusting for seasonal variation, down from a record high 57.1 in December. January's reading was the weakest in four months, although the reading above 50 showed continued expansion.
Delivery times lengthened for the fourth straight month and stocks of goods increased, but more worrying was the first contraction in new export orders for the first time since November 2011.
Manufacturing exports are equivalent to about 25 percent of Mexico's gross domestic product (GDP) and the country has been shielded from a weak global environment by continued U.S. demand for goods such as cars and televisions.
Mexico's growth is forecast to slow this year to around 3.5 percent from an expected 4 percent expansion in 2012, but a collapse in overseas demand for manufactured goods could drag that even lower.
The PMI index, compiled by Markit, is composed of five sub-indexes tracking changes in new orders, output, employment, suppliers' delivery times and stocks of raw materials and finished goods.