German manufacturing companies reported further lacklustre growth at the end of the first quarter. This was signalled by the final seasonally adjusted Markit/BME Germany Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index® (PMI® ) – a single-figure snapshot of the performance of the manufacturing economy – posting 50.7, little-changed from February’s 50.5 and the second-weakest in 16 months.
Moreover, the average PMI reading over the first quarter as a whole (51.2) was the worst since the final quarter of 2014. Production growth was maintained at German manufacturers in March, thereby extending the current spell of continuous expansion to 35 months. Panellists linked increased output to the processing of backlogs and higher new orders. However, the pace of expansion was slight and below the average over the aforementioned period.
The amount of new business placed with manufacturers rose further during March, but the latest increase was the least marked in eight months. Sector data suggested that intermediate goods producers recorded a decline in new work, while growth was reported in the consumer and investment goods sub-sectors. Much of the rise in total new business was attributable to the domestic market, as new export orders almost stagnated.
With new order growth slowing further, companies lowered their workforce numbers for a second month running during March. However, the rate of job cuts was only marginal overall and panellists linked this to the expiration of temporary contracts. Meanwhile, backlogs of work continued to accumulate, with the rate of increase up slightly since February.