TOKYO -- The Nikkei ASEAN Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index, or PMI, rose to 51.1 in April from 50.9 in March. The rate of improvement was the quickest recorded in 33 months.
A reading above 50 indicates economic expansion, while a reading below 50 points toward contraction.
Latest PMI data showed that six of the seven countries covered by the survey saw growth across their manufacturing sectors. Vietnam, the Philippines and Myanmar remained the top three performers, although in three cases business conditions improved at a slower rate compared to March.
"The ASEAN manufacturing sector started the second quarter on a stronger footing, building on the growth momentum seen in the first quarter. Growth was modest but nevertheless the strongest in nearly three years," said Bernard Aw, economist at IHS Markit, which compiles the survey.
"However, it seems a little hasty to conclude that the upturn is sustainable. Employment levels were little-changed, partly due to spare capacity across the region. A further rise in backlogs had restrained firms' hiring. On the price front, input cost inflation continued to increase at a quicker rate than firms' selling prices, suggesting an ongoing squeeze on margins," the economist added.
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