The Covid-19 outbreak and the subsequent lockdown to curb its spread, led the production growth of India’s manufacturing sector to its steepest fall yet, the PMI survey report showed. The headline seasonally adjusted IHS Markit India Manufacturing PMI reading showed sharp deterioration in business conditions across the sector since the data collection began over 15 years ago. Consequently, the seasonally adjusted PMI reading fell to 27.4 in April from 51.8 in March.
An index reading of above 50 indicates overall increase compared to the previous month, and below 50, a decrease. Furthermore, the report said that deteriorating demand conditions saw manufacturers drastically cut back staff numbers in April. The reduction in employment was the quickest in the survey’s history. There was a similar trend in purchasing activity, with firms cutting input buying at a record pace.
“After making it through March relatively unscathed, the Indian manufacturing sector felt the full force of the coronavirus pandemic in April,” said Eliot Kerr, Economist at IHS Markit. “In the latest survey period, record contractions in output, new orders and employment pointed to a severe deterioration in demand conditions. Meanwhile, there was evidence of unprecedented supply-side disruption, with input delivery times lengthening to the greatest extent since data collection began in March 2005.”
“There was a hint of positivity when looking at firms’ 12-month outlooks, with sentiment towards future activity rebounding from March’s record low. That said, the degree of optimism remained well below the historical average.”