TOKYO -- The Nikkei ASEAN Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index, or PMI, rose to 50.9 in March from 50.3 in February. All ASEAN economies except Malaysia recorded growth across their manufacturing sectors.
A reading above 50 indicates economic expansion, while a reading below 50 points toward contraction. The latest reading recorded the above-50 level for the second consecutive month, according to IHS Markit, which compiles the survey.
Among the nations, Vietnam remained as the strongest performer at 54.6, reaching a 22-month high. This was followed by the Philippines and Myanmar at 53.8 and 53.1, respectively.
The latest upturn was relatively broad-based, suggesting a more stable growth footing. However, Bernard Aw, economist at IHS Markit, said the region "continued to face challenges."
"Firstly, a lack of capacity pressure among ASEAN manufacturers remained evident, as lower backlogs have now been reported for nearly three years," he said. Sharp cost increases were also still observed.
"Finally, national PMI data showed that the degree of business confidence across the region remained varied," the economist added.
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