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India’s manufacturing activity hits 7-month low amid pandemic: survey

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NEW DELHI: Business in India’s manufacturing sector lost more of its growth momentum and fell to its seven-month low in March as demand limited by escalating COVID-19 pandemic, survey finds monthly Monday.

The seasonally adjusted IHS Markit India Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) fell from 57.5 in February to a seven-month low of 55.4 in March.

However, the latest reading indicated a substantial improvement in the health of the sector which exceeded the long-term series average, he said.

In PMI parlance, an impression above 50 means expansion while a score below 50 indicates contraction.

“Production, new orders and input purchases have grown at lower rates,” said Pollyanna De Lima, associate director of economics at IHS Markit.

Lima further noted that “survey participants indicated that demand growth has been constrained by the escalation of the COVID-19 pandemic, while the increase in input purchases has been held back by a increased cost pressures “.

“With the extension of COVID-19 restrictions and the reintroduction of lockdowns in many states, Indian manufacturers are expected to have a tough month in April,” Lima said.

India recorded a record 1.03,558 coronavirus infections in one day, bringing the national COVID-19 tally to 125.89067, according to updated Union Ministry of Health data Monday.

The survey found that employment declined in March, bringing the current streak of job cuts to one year. “Panelists said the drop came from COVID-19 workforce restrictions. Despite the reduction in payroll figures, one-off cases increased only marginally,” Lima said.

Business confidence weakened in March. While some companies expect production to grow over the next 12 months, the vast majority have not expected any change from current levels.

On the price front, the rate of inflation of input costs has been among the highest observed over the past three years. However, selling prices increased only moderately, with companies limiting their adjustments to maintain a competitive advantage and boost sales.

Experts say a sudden increase in COVID-19 cases and the government’s recent mandate asking the central bank to keep retail inflation around 4% will likely prompt the Reserve Bank to maintain the status quo on policy rates during the next policy review. unveiled on April 7.

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