Easing lockdown lifts South Africa’s Absa PMI in June

A worker wearing a protective face shield looks at his mobile phone while standing on an isle of a grocery store, amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at Mall of the south, in Johannesburg, South Africa, June 17, 2020.

South Africa’s seasonally-adjusted Absa Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) expanded in June as an easing of coronavirus restrictions lifted business activity and sales.

The index, which gauges manufacturing activity in Africa’s most industrialized economy, rose to 53.9 points in June from 50.2 points in May.

Despite the uptick, many respondents reported that production levels remained below normal capacity.

“The further rise in June merely means that a solid month-on-month increase was likely recorded,” analysts at Absa said of the survey.

“Indeed, continued restrictions in some non-manufacturing sectors of the economy (for example the hospitality industry) still weighed on demand and limited the need to ramp up production.”

South Africa imposed a strict lockdown in late March to curb the spread of the coronavirus but has since eased some of the restrictions. From June 1, much of the economy was allowed to return to full capacity.

The improvement in the Absa PMI came a day after data showed first-quarter gross domestic product contracted again, with the slowdown stretching back to mid-2019, before the coronavirus struck.