ASEAN Manufacturing Output Growth Hits Four-Month High in April

Output growth at ASEAN manufacturers increased to a four-month high in
April 2019, as new orders picked up and companies across the region saw
the first improvement of new export sales for the first time in nine
months, the headline Nikkei ASEAN Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’
Index (PMI) showed on 2 May.

The ASEAN Manufacturing PMI is produced by IHS Markit and is based on
original survey data collected from around 2,100 manufacturing firms
from Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand,
and Vietnam. Taken together, those seven countries account for an
estimated 98 percent of manufacturing activity in the ASEAN bloc.

The headline PMI increased to 50.4 in April from 50.3 in March, and the
April index was the highest reading for five months.

On another positive note, employment in the surveyed economies
expanded for the third successive month during April, with Vietnam
booking the sharpest increase in payrolls.

Five of the seven monitored countries saw their respective business
conditions strengthen in April, and three of these economies—Myanmar,
Vietnam, and Thailand—saw quicker growth than in March.

Looking ahead, business confidence about future output remained positive
in April and slightly strengthened from March. The Philippines continued to
record the highest level of positive sentiment, according to the Nikkei
ASEAN Manufacturing PMI.

Commenting on the survey data, David Owen, Economist at IHS Markit,
said:

“[D]emand-side factors seemed to improve in April, most notably in
foreign markets. New export orders rose for the first time since last July,
albeit at only a fractional pace. This supported the quickest increase in
total new orders for seven months, lending some optimism to
manufacturers that have been noticeably affected by the ongoing trade
war.”

“With discussions continuing between the US and China, firms will be
hopeful that these will lead to reduced pressure from tariffs. Either way,
markets in the region appear to be opening up at the start of the second
quarter, which could hopefully fuel stronger growth in the months to
come,” Owen noted.