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Czech factory activity contracts at record pace

The Czech Republic’s manufacturing sector contracted sharply in March, amid a decline in production and new orders mainly due to coronavirus outbreak, survey data from IHS Markit shows. The headline manufacturing PMI fell to 41.3 in March from 46.5 in February.

The latest deterioration was the sharpest since May 2009. Order book volumes declined sharply in March as factories shutdown and global economic uncertainty intensified.

The delivery of raw materials and availability of workers were both difficult in March. The number of workers declined at its sharpest pace since September 2009, as voluntary leavers were not replaced and factory shutdowns led to greater reports of dismissals.

The degree of confidence decreased to its lowest level since April 2012. Business expectation uncertainty was driven by the impact of COVID-19, especially on the already struggling automotive sector, Markit Economics reported on April 1.