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Oil broadly steady after surprise US crude stock drop.

Date: 22-03-2024
Subject: Oil broadly steady after surprise US crude stock drop
India's business activity ended this fiscal year on a high note, expanding at the fastest rate in eight months in March, according to a business survey, suggesting the country would remain the fastest growing major economy.

HSBC's flash India Composite Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI), compiled by S&P Global, rose to 61.3 this month from February's final reading of 60.6.

That extended the streak of expanding activity to 32 months. The 50-mark separates expansion from contraction on a monthly basis.

"Led by the strongest manufacturing output in nearly three-and-a-half years, the composite output index rose quickly," said Pranjul Bhandari, chief India economist at HSBC. "New orders rose at a faster pace than in the previous month, and within that both domestic and export orders showed improved vigor."

Growth was led by the manufacturing sector, which has been one of the primary economic drivers over the past few quarters. The index tracking factory activity rose to 59.2, its highest since February 2008, from 56.9 last month.

Demand in Asia's third-largest economy for factory goods remained strong with new orders recording the fastest expansion in over three years. Meanwhile, services activity also remained robust although the index eased slightly to 60.3 in March from 60.6 last month.

Overall exports expanded at the fastest pace in seven months.

That solid demand alongside expectations that economic conditions will remain supportive of growth led business optimism for the coming year to increase this month. Companies also stepped up hiring at the strongest pace since September.

However, overall price pressures rose this month. Input costs at services firms rose at the quickest pace in seven months, while prices charged saw the sharpest rise since July 2017. Although prices charged by manufacturers appreciated at the weakest pace in over a year in March, input costs rose faster this month than in February.

That indicates overall inflation could remain sticky, giving less incentive to the Reserve Bank of India to cut interest rates anytime soon.

 Source Name : Economic Times

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