COVID-19: Asian factories report stability


There are growing concerns that the Omicron variant may affect industrial production, which has just recovered from plant closures of the Delta variant.

Manufacturing activity in Asia outside of China stabilized last month amid easing lockdown and border restrictions, putting the industry on track to face a possible new challenge of the Omicron variant SARS-CoV-2.

Manufacturing purchasing manager indices (PMIs) across Southeast Asia have shown continued positivity, data released yesterday by IHS Markit showed.

Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines all saw their PMIs rise, while Thailand’s edged down to 50.6, although it remains above the value of 50 which separates expansion and contraction.

The Indonesian PMI index experienced a third month of expansion, but fell to 53.9 from 57.2 last month. The index rose to 57.6 in India – the highest reading since January.

In North Asia, manufacturing activity in Taiwan and the trading leader in South Korea remained in expansionary territory, while Japan’s PMI index reached 54.5, its highest level since January 2018.

Meanwhile, separate data from South Korea released yesterday showed that last month’s exports rose more than expected and are heading for an annual record, supported by holiday demand and rising prices. product prices, even as supply chain bottlenecks continued to put pressure on manufacturers.

Exports rose 32.1 percent last month from a year earlier to a record $ 60.4 billion, according to data from South Korea’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Commerce. Energy.

Overseas shipments are on track to reach the highest annual value in the country’s trade history, the ministry said.

In Japan, a finance ministry report released yesterday showed that Japanese companies cut back on investment in the last quarter for the first time in six months as supply shortages hit activity and businesses became cautious in the process. of a summer peak in COVID-19 that triggered emergency restrictions.

Capital spending, excluding that on software, fell 1.1% in the three months to September, compared to the previous quarter, according to the report.

Manufacturers and service firms slashed investment, as spending by goods makers fell 1.5% on supply chain issues.

News of the Omicron variant is seen as a potential threat to industrial production across the region after the Delta variant forced factories to close and grunted supply chains again.

Factories across Southeast Asia, in particular, were on the path to recovery as loosened movement restrictions allowed production to catch up ahead of the crucial year-end holiday period.

The regional figures came a day after data showed Chinese factory activity improved last month, as the impact of an electricity crisis eased and the increase the number of working days during the month helped to increase production.

China’s official manufacturing PMI rose to 50.1, the first time in three months to break the 50 mark. The non-manufacturing gauge, which measures activity in the construction and service sectors, edged down decreased to 52.3.

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