April 13, 2020

Metals PMIs See Slight Improvement In March As Asia Struggles To Come Back


  • The IHS Markit Global Steel Users Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) rose to 49.3 in March from 45.3 in February due to a slight recovery at Asian steel users. Despite that improvement, output and new orders fell further in March. IHS Markit said, “Suppliers to steel users continued to suffer from the virus pandemic in March, as delivery times lengthened sharply for the second month in a row. The rate of decline was softer than in February, however. Employment also decreased, with many firms reducing workforces as demand weakened. This was mostly in the US and Europe, whereas Asian users took on more workers as some factories reopened.”
  • The IHS Markit Global Aluminum Users PMI rose from 45.4 in February to 49.4 in March, indicating a slight decline in operating conditions at the end of the first quarter. IHS Markit said, “New work received by global users of aluminum continued to fall sharply during March, as the virus pandemic curbed client demand further. However, the rate of decline weakened due to a much softer fall recorded at Asian manufacturers. In comparison, US and European users saw the largest drops in sales since May 2009 and March 2009 respectively.
  • The IHS Markit Global Copper Users Purchasing Managers PMI also improved, rising from 46.1 in February to 49.0 in March, to signal a marginal deterioration in operating conditions. IHS cautioned that “this figure was partly supported by the Suppliers’ Delivery Times Index, which indicated slower lead times and normally suggests a busier economy rather than supply chain delays.”
  • As a reminder, all available PMI reading summaries can be found here. Just two of the top 10 markets for U.S.-manufactured goods experienced growth in activity in March: China and the Netherlands. Aside from the rebound seen in China, each of the other nine economies had weaker PMI data in March than in February, highlighting the abrupt halt in activity seen globally as nations struggle to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.