UK manufacturing activity contracted in March due to the outbreak of the coronavirus, or Covid-19, and the subsequent mitigation efforts, the final survey data from IHS Markit showed Wednesday.
The IHS Markit/Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply factory Purchasing Managers’ Index fell to 47.8 in March from 51.7 in February. The flash estimate was 48.0.
Output fell to the greatest extent since July 2012 following a similarly severe reduction in intakes of new business. The impact was also felt in the labor market and through supply chains.
Manufacturers said declines in output and orders resulted from the disruption caused by the covid-19 outbreak, lower market confidence and company shutdowns.
Export business fell to the greatest extent since mid-2012 as there were reports of project delays, cancelation and transportation issues.
Employment declined at the fastest rate since July 2009. Further, manufacturers reduced purchasing activity due to falling output requirement and efforts to protect cash flows.
Moreover, business sentiment fell to a series-record low in March as manufacturers see further economic disruption and uncertainty.
Inflationary pressures remained relatively contained, with input costs and output charges only rising at mild rates.
“With supply chains crumbling around the world, we can only expect a worsening outlook next month as increasingly necessary lockdown measures squeeze manufacturing production,” Duncan Brock, group director at the CIPS said.
Only creative and agile thinking, new products and approaches will see the sector through the turbulence ahead, Brock noted.
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