Mumbai: India’s manufacturing sector growth waned further and touched a 22-month low in October largely due to a slower increase in new orders, a leading international business survey showed on Monday.
Revealing the weakest purchasing activity since December 2013, the Nikkei India Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) recorded an eight-month low in October at 50.7, down from 51.2 in September and from 52.3 in August.
According to the PMI report published by financial information services provider Markit, in which a value above 50 in the reading index indicates an overall increase in manufacturing and below 50 an overall decrease, expansion in production and order books were the weakest in their current 24-month growth sequence.
“Rates of expansion in both production and order books were the weakest in their current 24-month sequences of growth, with panellists reporting challenging economic conditions and a reluctance among clients to commit to new projects,” the report said.
“PMI data for October show a further loss of growth momentum across the Indian manufacturing economy, with a slower rise in new business inflows resulting in a weaker expansion of output,” said Pollyanna De Lima, economist at Markit and the report’s author.
Despite the slowdown in new order growth, manufacturers recruited additional workers in October. Employment rose only marginally for the first time since January.
“Undeterred by tough economic conditions overall, firms took extra staff in October. This, combined with a further drop in inventories of finished goods, suggests that production growth may rebound in coming months,” Lima said.
The report said October saw inflationary pressures return to India’s manufacturing economy. Average purchase costs rose, though the rate of increase was “slight”, the survey said.
Part of the additional cost was passed on to clients by raising tariffs.
“A return to inflationary pressures, meanwhile, indicates that RBI may pause its loosening cycle for the rest of the year following a 50 basis points cut of the key repo rate in September,” Lima said.
“Upcoming survey data will show how effective the central bank’s effort to revive the economy has been,” Reserve Bank of India Governor Raghuram Rajan on September 29 cut the RBI’s repo rate, at which it lends to commercial banks, to 6.75 percent making it the third cut in the bank’s short-term lending rate this year.
The RBI has also lowered its GDP growth forecast for the current fiscal to 7.4 percent, from its earlier projection of 7.6 percent.
Under the PMI, the manufacturing sector is divided into 8 broad categories of basic metals, chemicals and plastics, electrical and optical, food and drink, mechanical engineering, textiles and clothing, timber and paper and transport.