Dutch manufacturers experienced another sharp improvement in business conditions in March, according to the latest PMI survey data from NEVI and IHS Markit.
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The headline PMI corrected from February’s record high, reflecting slower increases in new orders, output, employment and stocks of purchases.
That said, all four variables still recorded historically strong rates of expansion.
Moreover, suppliers’ delivery times – the final component of the headline PMI – lengthened at a new survey-record rate.
The latest survey also signalled further steep increases in both input and output prices.
The headline NEVI Netherlands Manufacturing PMI is a composite single-figure indicator of manufacturing performance.
It is derived from indicators for new orders, output, employment, suppliers’ delivery times and stocks of purchases.
Any figure greater than 50.0 indicates overall improvement of the sector.
The PMI fell to a fivemonth low of 61.5 in March, from February’s record high of 63.4.
The latest figure nevertheless signalled that Dutch manufacturers continued to experience rapidly improving business conditions at the end of the first quarter of 2018, and was the fifth-highest since the series started in March 2000.
Business conditions have improved continuously since July 2013.
Dutch manufacturing output rose strongly in March.
Production has risen continuously for almost five years, a survey-record sequence.
That said, the rate of expansion slowed to an eight-month low.
Supporting growth of manufacturing output was a further marked increase in new orders.
The pace of expansion was the slowest since last October, but was still among the strongest registered over the survey history.
Data also signalled the slowest rise in new export business in ten months.
The rate of manufacturing employment growth eased from the record pace shown in the first two months of 2018, but was nonetheless stronger than in any previous period over the survey history.
This contributed to the slowest rise in backlogs in six months, although growth in outstanding work remained relatively solid.
Suppliers’ delivery times lengthened to an unprecedented extent in March.
This was despite a softer increase in purchasing activity by manufacturers during the month.
Inflationary pressures remained strong in March.
Input price inflation slowed to a six-month low, but remained among the strongest registered over the past seven years.
Similarly, output prices rose at the third-fastest rate since June 2011.
Output expectations among Dutch manufacturers remained close to recent record levels in March.
Positive growth expectations were linked to incoming new work, new efficient capacity coming online, the development of new markets, ongoing strong European and global demand and the launch of new products. ■
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