In July, India’s manufacturing sector witnessed a marginal deceleration in its growth trajectory, as reflected by a dip in the Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) from 57.8 in June to 57.7. This decline, however, did not deter the sector’s expansion, as the PMI remained above the pivotal 50-mark, signaling continued growth.
The driving forces behind this sustained expansion were twofold. Domestically, the sector benefited from robust demand, which fueled production and encouraged firms to broaden their workforce to meet the rising needs. Simultaneously, the export front displayed exceptional vigor, with new export business experiencing its swiftest growth since November 2022. This stellar export performance placed India’s manufacturing sector ahead of many global counterparts that grappled with demand constraints during the same period, firmly reinforcing its status as a top-performing industry on the global stage.
The production lines hummed with activity, with a noteworthy surge in new orders that has fostered uninterrupted monthly output growth since July 2021. While this growth is indeed commendable, it came hand in hand with certain challenges. The sector grappled with capacity limitations and an inflationary backdrop that, despite recent moderation, still exerted notable pressure. Inflationary forces were particularly pronounced in input costs, which scaled a nine-month peak in July, propelled by escalating expenses for raw materials like cotton and a rise in labor costs. In response, manufacturers opted to adjust their selling prices, showcasing their resilience in the face of cost fluctuations.
A noteworthy aspect of the sector’s resilience was the expansion of employment despite capacity constraints, in alignment with the job creation pace witnessed in the preceding months of May and June. Furthermore, backlogs of work surged, underscoring the strength of the uptick in new orders.
The economic landscape, closely monitored by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), saw a series of interest rate hikes since May 2022, totaling 250 basis points. Despite this, the repo rate has remained unchanged at 6.50% since April, reflecting the central bank’s cautious stance amidst prevailing economic dynamics.
Looking ahead, manufacturers anticipate a continued surge in demand over the forthcoming years, lending support to projections of sustained production growth in the manufacturing sphere. Despite prevailing challenges and uncertainties, the industry’s outlook remains positive, underscoring its enduring optimism about future opportunities.