Growth in the manufacturing sector remained solid in February, but the country’s latest Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) eased to 52.7 percent from a seven-month high of 53.5 percent in January, S&P Global said on Wednesday.
“Growth remained solid as production and new orders, the two biggest drivers of the core index, continued to rise,” the statement said.
“New customers and higher customer demand helped boost new sales as many panelists reported production levels were back to pre-pandemic times,” he added.
However, costs remained “stubbornly high”, signaling mounting price pressures.
While the latest PMI remained above the historical trend and extended the uptrend to 13 consecutive months, S&P Global said it “signals the mildest improvement in operating conditions in three months.”
Scores above 50 indicate expansion; below this indicates a contraction.
Overall growth in the sector is said to have been supported by strong but slower production and an increase in new orders.
Purchasing activity rose for the sixth month in a row, but declined in terms of raw materials and semi-finished products.
Inventories also rose for the 18th month in a row.
However, employment fell for the second month in a row and marks the first fall in the number of workers since November. Layoffs were reported and some firms laid off employees, but overall job losses were described as minor.
Meanwhile, supply chain conditions continued to look bleak, with “average lead times in February increasing by a large margin.”
“References to port congestion, high order volumes and material shortages impacted supplier performance and led to further deterioration,” S&P Global notes.
Moreover, the February data revealed a further increase in inflation in both entry prices and exit prices.
“The latest spikes in entry and exit costs, while less pronounced than their respective 2022 averages, have often been associated with rising raw material prices and higher supplier fees,” S&P Global said in a statement.