March data indicated that growth of global manufacturing production was the weakest since May 2003, as the volume of new orders was unchanged compared to levels one month ago. Cost inflationary pressures remained elevated, with the rate of increase in average purchase prices accelerating sharply to reach its second-highest in the survey history.
At 50.8 in March, down from 51.1 in February, the JPMorgan Global Manufacturing PMI remained at a level indicative of only minor improvement in overall operating conditions. PMIs for China and India both remained solidly above the 50.0 no-change mark. Although still signalling improvement, the Eurozone PMI lost further ground – posting a five-month low of 52.0 – as robust gains in Germany were partly offset by weakness in Ireland, Spain and Italy. The ISM PMI signalled a deterioration in the health of the US manufacturing economy for the second month running, the first time back-to-back readings below 50.0 have been recorded since mid-2003 and the onset of the Iraq war. The Japan PMI fell back below the 50.0 mark for the first time since last October.