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Vietnam Today

PMI at 52 in May

Released at: 13:59, 03/06/2019

PMI at 52 in May

Photo: Viet Tuan

Latest Nikkei Vietnam Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index notes new order growth fastest in year-to-date.

by Minh Do

The Nikkei Vietnam Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) - a composite single-figure indicator of manufacturing performance - posted 52.0 in May, down marginally from 52.5 in April but still representing an improvement in business conditions in Vietnam’s manufacturing sector.

Vietnamese manufacturers recorded another monthly improvement in business conditions during May, with growth in output and new orders picking up from April. Improving customer demand was reportedly central to the latest expansion, with higher output requirements leading to greater purchasing activity and the building up of input inventories.

On a less positive note, employment decreased for the third time in the past four months amid reports of worker resignations and retirements.

“The demand side of Vietnam’s manufacturing sector remained rosy in May, with faster increases in output and new orders recorded,” said Mr. Andrew Harker, Associate Director at IHS Markit, which produces the PMI. “There appear to be issues around the supply of labor, however, with reports of resignations and retirements leading to reduced employment levels in spite of the aforementioned improvements in demand and output requirements. This led the PMI to tick lower; a picture that could be reversed in coming months should the demand side remain strong and firms be able to replace departed workers.”

The softer improvement in the health of the sector was recorded in spite of stronger increases in both output and new orders. The securing of new customers helped firms register new order growth, with the rate of expansion the strongest in 2019 so far. New export orders also increased in May, and at a solid pace.

Rises in new orders, both from domestic and overseas clients, were reportedly behind the latest increase in manufacturing output. Growth has now been registered on a monthly basis throughout the past year and a half.

The investment goods sector was the best performing broad manufacturing category in May, posting the fastest expansions of output, new orders, and new export orders.

The moderation in the headline figure principally reflected a drop in employment - the third in the past four months. Staffing levels fell marginally, with panelists mainly linking this to employee resignations and retirements.

Manufacturers increased their purchasing activity at a solid and accelerated pace in May as they responded to greater output requirements. The rise in input buying fed through to an accumulation of stocks of purchases, the second in as many months. Sufficient stock holdings at suppliers were also reported, helping lead to an improvement in delivery times.

Meanwhile, stocks of finished goods decreased in May, thereby ending a seven-month sequence of accumulation. Where post-production inventories fell, this was linked to the use of stocks to meet new orders.

The rate of input cost inflation ticked down and was slower than the series average. Where higher input prices were recorded, panelists mentioned increased costs of electricity, gasoline and oil. Relatively weak cost inflation and some reports of demand weakness in certain export markets meant that firms lowered their output prices slightly again in May. Charges have now decreased in six successive months.

Business confidence improved for the third month running to the highest since last November. Optimism regarding output growth reflected expected increases in new orders and new product launches.

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