Slow growth overall. New orders remain globally slightly positive thanks to the U.S.
The global manufacturing sector posted further modest expansions in production, new orders and employment at the end of Q1 2012. However, input cost inflationary pressure continued to surge upwards, mainly as a result of high oil and transportation prices.
At 51.1 in March, little-changed from 51.2 in February, the JPMorgan Global Manufacturing PMI™ posted above the no-change mark of 50.0 for the fourth month running. Production also expanded for the fourth consecutive month in March, following a brief growth hiatus in November 2011.
Although the rate of increase reached a nine-month high, it remained slightly below the long-run survey average. Growth continued to accelerate in the US, but this was offset by contractions in the Eurozone and China.
The rate of output expansion in India slowed sharply, but remained well above the global average. Among the other major industrial nations, pockets of resilience were seen in Japan, the UK, South Korea, Brazil and Russia, which all saw faster growth in March than February.
Following a further increase in March, levels of incoming new orders have expanded throughout the opening quarter of the year. Although the rate of increase remained only modest, it was nonetheless an improvement on the contractions seen towards the end of 2011. A broadly similar trend was signalled for incoming new export business.
Input price inflation surged higher in March. The rate of increase hit an eight-month peak, although was still mild compared to those signalled during Q1 2011. All of the nations covered by the survey reported an increase. March data indicated that supply-chain constraints were subsiding. Average vendor lead times showed a slight improvement during the latest survey period, after lengthening in each of the prior 31 months.
Manufacturing employment rose for the twenty-eighth consecutive month in March. Job creation was recorded in the US (nine-month high), India, Brazil, Taiwan, South Korea Canada and Turkey. Payroll numbers were reduced in the Eurozone, China, Japan, Russia, Poland and Switzerland.
Good chart from the WSJ