MANUFACTURING production came out better than expected in December compared with a year ago, Statistics SA data showed on Thursday.

Manufacturing production increased by 0.4% in December last year compared with December 2014 on higher output in the food and beverages; and petroleum, chemical products, rubber and plastic products divisions.

The growth in output in these divisions was offset by production declines in the basic iron and steel, nonferrous metal products, metal products and machinery division.

The steel industry has had to shed thousands of jobs and cut production due to weak global demand and depressed commodity prices.

Total manufacturing production showed no growth last year compared with 2014, Stats SA reported.

Seasonally adjusted manufacturing production rose 1.8% in December 2015 compared with November following month-on-month declines of 1.3% in November and 1.8% in October 2015.

Seasonally adjusted manufacturing production fell 0.6% in the fourth quarter of last year compared with the third quarter as seven of the 10 manufacturing divisions reported negative growth rates over the period.

Seasonally adjusted manufacturing sales increased 0.1% in December compared with November following month-on-month declines of 1.7% in November and 0.1% in October.