The country’s manufacturing sector has ended 2013 in a relatively strong position, according to the latest purchasing managers index from nvestec.

The headline index grew to 53.5 in December, marking the seventh consecutive month of growth in the sector.

In November the index stood at 52.4, with any figure above 50 indicating growth.

There was an increase in new orders, with respondents pointing to stronger demand from clients in the United States, Britain and China.

Employment in the manufacturing sector also increased during the month, as companies grew staffing levels to meet rising demand.

The Investec PMI notes that input prices rose to their highest point in the past three months as the cost of raw materials increased. However respondents said that output prices also rose during the month.