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Thai manufacturing returns to growth in May

Staff Writer |
Thai manufacturing conditions improved midway through the second quarter as client demand picked up.

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A faster increase in output and renewed growth in sales drove the headline PMI higher.

Increased inventories and higher purchasing activity also supported the upturn.

However, supply chains were not under strain despite greater input demand.

Meanwhile, operating capacity was stretched, albeit only modestly, as reflected in rising backlogs.

Staff numbers shrank further, while inflationary pressures eased.

Business confidence remained upbeat.

The seasonally adjusted Nikkei Thailand Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) rose from 49.5 in April to 51.1, signalling the first improvement in the health of the sector for three months.

The latest reading was the second highest since the survey started in December 2015.

The survey data brought signs of improving client demand as new business volumes rose in May following two months of declines, partly a symptom of higher domestic demand.

Export orders were flat after a four-month period of expansion, with poor weather cited as a reason for lacklustre export performance.

The increase in overall sales encouraged firms to scale up production, according to anecdotal evidence.

After showing broadly unchanged levels in April, output volumes rose by the greatest extent in the survey history during the middle of the second quarter.

Moreover, goods producers also stepped up purchasing activity in response to greater production requirements.

Buying levels saw the largest monthly rise since the survey inception.

Higher output and greater input buying boosted inventory levels.

Higher stocks of both inputs and finished goods were reported for the first time in three months.

Suppliers were able to meet the rise in input demand and even improve on their performance.

Shorter delivery times were recorded for a third month in a row.

However, there were some reports of bad weather disrupting supply chains.

Despite greater demand, firms remained reluctant to take on more workers.

Labour numbers fell further in May.

Notably, job creation has not been seen for nearly one-and-a-half years.

Lower employment contributed to a further rise in incomplete businesses amid higher sales.

Backlogs of work were up for a fourth consecutive month.

On the inflation front, there were signs of easing price pressures.

The rate of input cost inflation was the weakest for six months, which saw firms raising selling prices at the slowest pace since November last year.

Higher product prices were the key reason for inflation.

Business expectations about output over the next 12 months improved during May.

The Future Output Index rose to the highest level since December 2016.

A range of reasons were cited for optimism, including new marketing plans, increased market demand and planned business expansions.


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