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Ireland Manufacturing Sector Deteriorates On COVID-19 Outbreak

Ireland's manufacturing sector contracted in March as the coronavirus outbreak disrupted supply chains and a collapse in demand and confidence, survey data from IHS Markit showed on Wednesday.

The seasonally adjusted AIB factory Purchasing Managers' Index, or PMI, fell to 45.1 in March from 51.2 in February. This was the sharpest downturn since August 2009. Any reading below 50 indicates contraction in the sector.

The volume of new orders and new export orders declined in March, with the rate of contraction fastest registered since April 2009. New orders decrease was led by substantial drop in demand related to the accelerating COVID-19.

The Output Index decreased in March to signal the fastest contraction in manufacturing production since June 2009. This was driven by the collapse in incoming new work and widespread disruption to supply chains and purchasing due to coronavirus outbreak.

Employment decreased moderately in three of the previous four months and the latest decline was the fastest since July 2009.

The 12-month outlook for production was the worst on record. The Future Output Index posted a record monthly decline and was at the lowest since July 2012.

Manufacturers reduced their purchases of new inputs as new orders declined at a faster rate. Overall purchase activity declined at the sharpest rate since September 2011. Firms reduced their own prices marginally for the first time in six months.

Overall, the PMI data confirm that there was an abrupt and steep fall in manufacturing in March, Oliver Mangan, an AIB chief economist, said. "Worse is to come, but there is also scope for a sharp rebound in activity when the coronavirus pandemic abates," Mangan added.

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