Asian Factories Recover as Restrictions Ease After Delta Hit
Asia’s manufacturing activity rebounded in September after Covid-19’s grip on several countries loosened, allowing the easing of lockdown measures that had crippled factories.
Manufacturing purchasing managers’ indexes gained across Southeast Asia, which is recovering from one of the world’s worst outbreaks. Indonesia surged past the 50 mark that divides contraction from expansion with an 8.5 percentage point jump, its biggest one-month increase since June 2020. Thailand, Malaysia, and the Philippines all improved, while only Vietnam was unchanged at 40.2.
Japan, Taiwan and trade bellwether South Korea stayed safely in expansion territory last month, with Taiwan still holding a region’s-best 54.7 despite slipping from August. India rose to 53.7, its third month of expansion.
Southeast Asia has seen a decline in its Covid-19 caseload and death toll as countries raced to get their populations vaccinated and stringent movement restrictions helped slow the spread of the highly-infectious delta variant.
Data on Thursday showed China’s official PMI fell to 49.6 from 50.1 in August, marking its first contraction since the pandemic began as an electricity shortage forces deep output cuts. The new export orders sub-index declined further into contraction territory at 46.2 from 46.7 as delays pile up.
A manufacturing slowdown in a powerhouse like China adds to an already troubled global supply chain, which has been hit with skyrocketing shipping costs, port closures and weather disruptions. That’s spurring a race to get factories back on track to meet orders ahead of the all-important year-end holiday shopping season.
©2021 Bloomberg L.P.