Factory growth output in March jumped to its highest pace in seven months, preliminary results from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed this morning.

A report from the PSA of the Monthly Integrated Survey of Selected Industries (MISSI) showed manufacturing, as measured by the volume of production index (VoPI), grew more than four times or 336.3% year-on-year in March.

This was faster than February’s revised 75.5% growth and a turnaround from the 73.3% contraction recorded in March 2021.

March marked the 12th straight month that the manufacturing output was in the positive territory. It was also the highest year-on-year growth in seven months or since the 521% surge in August last year.

Manufacturing growth averaged 80.9% in the three months to March.

Fifteen of 22 industry divisions posted VoPI growth in March, led by manufacture of coke and refined petroleum products, which grew almost 23x annually, still faster than the revised 482.1% growth in February. This was followed by manufacture of machinery and equipment except electrical, which grew by 43.2%; and manufacture of textiles, which was up by 24.2%.

Meanwhile, declines were recorded for the manufacture of electrical equipment (-36.5% in March from -27.4% in February), printing and reproduction of recorded media (-10.9% from -10.7%), manufacture of leather and related products, including footwear (-5.9% from 31.4%), manufacture of other non-metallic mineral products (-5.4% from 22.6%), manufacture of transport equipment (-4.6% from 6.2%), manufacture of basic pharmaceutical products and pharmaceutical preparations (-0.6% from 7.2%) and manufacture of food products (-0.1% from 20.3%).

In comparison, S&P Global’s Philippines Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index improved to its second month to an over three-year high of 53.2 in March, signifying an expansion in manufacturing condition the previous month.

The 50-mark separates manufacturing expansion and contraction.

The capacity utilization — the extent to which industry resources are used in producing goods — averaged 70.4% in March, faster from the revised 69.7% the previous month. Of the 22 sectors, 21 reached an average capacity utilization rate of at least 50%. — Ana Olivia A. Tirona