Lockdowns have dragged global manufacturing into a historic slump

Singapore/Hong Kong/Frankfurt: Factories around the world suffered one of their grimmest months on record in March, as the led to mass shutdowns and wreaked havoc on supply chains.

Figures from Asia to Europe and the U.S. showed manufacturing taking a severe hit, with demand, employment and production all in decline. The global Purchasing Managers Index excluding China fell to the lowest since 2009.

U.S. factories saw orders and employment tumble the most in 11 years in March, according to a separate report from the Institute for Supply Management. The headline number performed better than expected, but only because increased delivery times are distorting the results.

The global reports reflect a worsening in the virus outbreak. A surge in cases in Italy, Spain, and the U.S. brought those economies to a halt in March, providing an additional punch to Asian nations that have been battling the virus for months. Companies from car manufacturer Renault SA to parts maker Johnson Matthey Plc have halted production at multiple sites.

China’s PMI improved, lifting the global index, but economists caution the better reading was inevitable as workers returned after an unprecedented shutdown and doesn’t yet signal a firm rebound.

In the euro area, manufacturing shrank in Germany, France and Italy, the region’s three largest economies. Italy’s index of output dropped to the weakest since the series began in June 1997. The U.K. also reported a sharp drop in factory output and employment.

“The concern is that we are still some way off peak decline for manufacturing,” said Chris Williamson, chief business economist at IHS Makit. “Company closures, lockdowns and rising unemployment are likely to have an unprecedented impact on expenditure around the world, crushing demand for a wide array of products.”

In response to the threat to businesses, jobs and people’s livelihoods, central banks have slashed interest rates and ramped up bond-buying and other liquidity measures to stabilize financial markets. Governments have unleashed eye-popping amounts of stimulus to aid consumers and businesses.

Source: https://theprint.in/economy/lockdowns-have-dragged-global-manufacturing-into-a-historic-slump/393416/


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