Australia’s private sector remained in a deep contraction in May as the impact of the coronavirus, or Covid-19, on the economy remained severe, survey data from IHS Markit showed Thursday.
The Commonwealth Bank flash composite output index rose to 26.4 in May from 21.7 in April. A score below 50 indicates contraction.
Although output fell at a slower pace, the rate of decrease was the second-fastest since the survey began in May 2016.
“Two consecutive reads in the 20s is simply astonishing as well as concerning,” CBA Head of Australian Economics, Gareth Aird said. “It is likely that only a manufactured slowdown due to imposed restrictions could produce such results.”
New orders continued to fall substantially and firms reduced their staffing levels for a fourth successive month.
Deflationary pressures were evident, particularly in the service sector. Nonetheless, companies were much more confident regarding the 12-month outlook than they were in April.
Services again reported the sharper reduction in activity of the two broad sectors covered by the survey. Meanwhile, the downturn in the manufacturing sector intensified.
The flash services Purchasing Managers’ Index advanced to 25.5 from 19.5 a month ago. The covid-19 pandemic has led to a further steep fall in business activity.
At the same time, the manufacturing PMI came in at 42.8 in May, down from 44.1 in April.
The decline in the Australian manufacturing sector intensified in May, with output falling to the greatest extent since the survey began in May 2016.