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Thai manufacturing growth gains pace in February

Staff Writer |
Growth in the Thai manufacturing sector gained further momentum midway through the first quarter.

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Both output and new orders expanded further, prompting companies to scale up input buying activity and build-up inventories.

Business confidence improved further.

Supply chains continued to be stretched as a result of greater appetite for inputs.

Signs of capacity constraints emerged for the first time in eight months, aggravated by further job losses.

On the price front, inflationary pressure intensified.

The seasonally adjusted Nikkei Thailand Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) rose from 50.6 in January to 50.9 in February, signalling a faster improvement in the health of the sector.

The latest reading was the second highest in the survey history, which started on December 2015, although the gain remained marginal.

Nevertheless, the average PMI reading for the first quarter so far is the highest in the survey history.

Thai goods producers raised production levels again in February, although the rate of growth was the slowest for three months.

Slower output growth contributed to the first rise in backlogs of work since June 2017 as order book growth gained pace.

Inflows of new business rose at the fastest rate for just over two years, supported by a further rise in export sales.

Despite signs of capacity strain, firms reported another drop in employment during February.

Job gains have not been seen since January 2017.

There was evidence that layoffs from efforts to cut costs as well as voluntary leavers led to lower payroll numbers.

Meanwhile, stronger client demand encouraged manufacturers to raise buying activity further.

February saw the largest monthly rise in input purchases in the survey history.

Supply chains remained under pressure as a result of increased appetite for inputs.

Average delivery times lengthened to an extent not seen since October 2016.

Higher purchasing activity also added to a further build-up in pre-production inventories.

The accumulation of input stocks was the second fastest on record.

Finished goods inventories also rose and at the quickest pace for over a year.

Firms revealed efforts to bolster stock levels to meet both current and future demand.

Firmer growth of demand led to rising inflationary pressures midway through the first quarter of 2018.

Increased labour costs and higher prices for raw materials were key factors cited by firms when raising their prices.

Average charges picked up to the highest on record.

Higher costs also highlighted the need to pass on increased input prices to customers.

Average cost burdens rose at a solid rate in February, with the pace of inflation the fastest in the survey history.


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