March factory output slumps

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Factory output posted its fourth consecutive month of decline in March, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported this morning.

Preliminary results of the PSA’s latest Monthly Integrated Survey of Selected Industries showed the volume of production index contracting by 9.2% year on year in March versus the February’s revised 8.1% decline and the 11% growth logged in March 2018.

It was the fourth straight month of decline following the contractions in February (-8.1%); January (-2.5%); and Dec. 2018 (-8.9%).

Year to date, the factory output decline averaged 6.6% versus the 12.3% growth in 2018’s comparable three months.

The PSA reported eight out of 20 major industry groups that registered annual declines led by furniture and fixtures (-25.5%), food manufacturing (-17.3%), and petroleum products (-17.2%).

In comparison, the Nikkei Philippines Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) was 51.5 that month, easing from February’s 51.9.

A PMI reading above 50 signals improvement in business conditions from the preceding month, while a score below that point indicates deterioration.

Average capacity utilization — the extent by which industry resources are used in the production of goods — was estimated at 84.4%. Eleven of the 20 sectors registered capacity utilization rates of at least 80%. — M.A. Madrid