Manufacturing accelerates to 8-month high amid festive season demand

Manufacturing accelerates to 8-month high amid festive season demand

Manufacturing activity accelerated to an 8-month high in October amid festival demand, but it failed to arrest job shedding by companies as existing capacities were enough to meet the rising demand, showed IHS Markit Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) survey.

rose to 55.9 in October from 53.7 in the previous month. The reading in October was the highest since February.

Firms stepped up input purchase amid stock-building efforts and in anticipation of further improvements in demand, while business optimism hit a 6-month high.

Pollyanna De Lima, associate director – Economics, at IHS Markit, said,””With companies gearing up for further improvement in demand by building up their stocks, it looks like manufacturing activity will continue to expand

throughout the third quarter of fiscal year 2021-22 should the Covid-19 pandemic remain under control.”

However, respondents continued to report rising prices for several materials and transportation, with overall input costs increasing at the sharpest rate since February 2014 or 92-month high. Anecdotal evidence highlighted higher chemical, fabric, metal, electronic components, oil, plastic and transportation costs. Subsequently, a few companies raised selling prices again.

“Of concern, input cost inflation accelerated substantially in October — to a near eight-year high — as strong global demand for scarce raw materials continued to push up prices for these items,” said Lima.

Despite the notable uptick in new orders, manufacturers were able to keep on top of their workloads, as signalled by another reduction in backlogs.

This lack of pressure on capacity, besides government guidelines surrounding shift work, meant that employment continued to decline. That said, the rate of job shedding was marginal.

While strong growth in both sales and production was noted in each of the three broad areas of the manufacturing sector, it was for intermediate goods that the sharpest rates of expansion were recorded.

figures portray more optimism compared to official figures for the crucial core sector production which grew at a modest rate of 4.4 per cent in September against 11.5 per cent in August. This may drag down the index of industrial production for September since the core sector has 40 per cent weight in the index.

However, official figures are year-on-year growth, while is a month-on-month calculation. In fact, the core sector contracted sequentially by 5 per cent in September over August. One has to see the figures for October core and IIP when festival season is on to see if PMI figures are in consonance with the official ones.

In addition to reporting a substantial increase in total new orders, Indian companies observed a notable pick-up in international demand for their goods. New export work rose at a solid pace that was the quickest in three months.

The latest official trade figures, however, showed that merchandise exports growth moderated to 22.6 per cent in September against 45.6 per cent in August.

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