Manufacturing Activity in Russia Contracts Again in March

Manufacturing activity in Russia in March decreased at its sharpest pace since November as the coronavirus outbreak and falling client demand affected production IHS Markit’s Markit Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) showed on Wednesday.

This marks the 11th straight monthly decline in the sector. The index measuring factory activity fell to 47.5 in March from 48.2 in February, remaining below the 50.0 mark separating expansion from contraction.

With uncertainty clouding the global economic outlook, business confidence fell to its lowest since the measure of future output was first included in the survey eight years ago.

“The Russian manufacturing sector remained in contraction in March, as the impact of the outbreak of COVID-19 began to emerge in global supply chains and external demand conditions,” said Sian Jones, an economist at survey compiler IHS Markit. “Uncertainty regarding the strength of the global economy and future demand weighed heavy on manufacturers’ minds as business confidence sank to a series low.”

The employment index rose in March to 49.9 from 47.9 despite reports of redundancies as production requirements fell and new orders contracted for a 10th successive month.

Disruption related to the coronavirus and measures imposed to contain it in Russia and elsewhere nevertheless means the future outlook is gloomy.

“Our current forecast for industrial production indicates a contraction in year-on-year terms in the first quarter of 2020, with the decline accelerating through to the latter stages of the year,” Jones said.