Asia’s factories took a tumble in February under the weight of a rapidly evolving coronavirus outbreak, with a severe plunge in activity in China driving down output across the region.
South Korea and Japan, where confirmed cases of the virus have accelerated recently, showed sharp declines in production, according to purchasing manager surveys released by IHS Markit on Monday. South Korea’s PMI, a critical bellwether of global demand, dropped to a four-month low of 48.7 from 49.8 in January, while the Jibun Bank Japan index declined to 47.8, the lowest reading since May 2016.
Taiwan dropped below 50, the dividing line between expansion and contraction, while Thailand and Malaysia stayed in negative territory. Vietnam’s PMI fell to a more than six-year low of 49.
The factory sentiment data add to signs that the negative effects of the virus are rippling through the region, disrupting supply chains and halting demand. Travel restrictions are rampant, schools and businesses in pockets of the region are shuttered and governments are scrambling to provide stimulus to shore up their economies.
China’s official PMI plunged in February to a record-low 35.7 from 50 at the start of the year, according to data released Saturday.
Read More: China Economy Seen Headed for Deeper Contraction on Factory Drop
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