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US business activity in March fell to its highest level in eight months: survey

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WASHINGTON, March 24 (Reuters) – A measure of U.S. business activity rose to an eight-month high in March, boosted by strong demand for both goods and services, although Russia’s war with Ukraine hurt sentiment.

S&P Global said on Thursday that its preliminary US composite PMI output index, which includes the manufacturing and services sectors, rose to a reading of 58.5 this month. It is calculated on the highest figure for July 2021 and is 55.9 for February.

A reading above 50 indicates growth in the private sector.

The continued rebound from the January plunge mostly reflected pent-up demand and relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions across the country amid a massive decline in coronavirus cases, as well as less severe supply chain disruptions. .

The preliminary composite order index rose to a nine-month high, with companies reporting that “increased input availability allowed them to become more competitive and win new customers.”

With new orders and unfinished jobs piling up, companies hired at the fastest pace since April 2021.

Inflation continued to accelerate, with companies reporting further rises in commodity, fuel and energy prices. Values ​​are likely to be high, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and China’s lockdown amid a COVID-19 outbreak are likely to be more severe than global supply timing.

While businesses were generally upbeat about the outlook for this year, confidence took a hit on concerns about rising input costs and the war between Russia and Ukraine.

According to S&P Global, service sector companies were less optimistic, concerned about the impact of shrinking disposable income as the cost of living rises.

The survey’s preliminary PMI manufacturer rose to a reading of 58.5 this month from 57.3 in February. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast the index for the sector, which accounts for 11.9% of the economy, to fall to 56.3.

The service sector PMI rose to 58.9 this month from 56.5 in February. Economists had expected a reading of 56 this month for the sector, which accounts for more than two-thirds of US economic activity.

(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing in Spanish by Carlos Serrano)

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