Italian new car sales were down 18.89 percent year-on-year in October, according to data earlier this week from the transport ministry, Fiat sales were down 13.1 percent, and their market share stood at 32.83 percent.
Other recent indicators have also been far from encouraging, with October business confidence hit its lowest point since September 1993, when the economy seized up after Italy was rocketed out of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism a year earlier.
Last week Confindustria said Italy was in "the darkest moment of the economic and financial crisis" where government action was needed to halt a recessionary spiral, but it also noted Italy's huge debt burden limited its options.
Fastest Rate Of PMI Deline Yet Recorded
The latest Markit/ADACI data point to a very sharp October deterioration in operating conditions in the Italian manufacturing sector. The headline Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) , which is designed to give a single-figure snapshot of operating conditions in the manufacturing economy, posted 39.7 in October, falling from 44.4 in September, the fastest deterioration in operating conditions in over eleven-and-a-half years of data collection. Output, new orders, employment, backlogs of work and purchasing activity all declined at series record rates.
Markit reported that survey respondents attributed the sharpness of the decline to the deepening of the financial crisis, which had reduced demand from both domestic and overseas markets. Total new orders contracted at a series record pace, while orders from abroad fell at their strongest rate since October 2001.
Record declines in production volumes and incoming new business inevitably fed through to employment levels in the manufacturing sector. Firms reported in many cases that outgoing staff had not been replaced, in line with cost considerations. October marked the fastest rate of job-shedding in the history of the survey.
Respondents also reported that price pressures eased considerably during October, with input price inflation slowing to a fractional rate. Firms reported that a dramatic decline in the global prices for raw materials had been the primary driver of rapid price disinflation they were seeing. However, a stronger US dollar was reported in some cases to have raised costs. The easing of input cost inflation, alongside weakening demand increasing competition, resulted in Italian manufacturers reducing factory gate prices for the first time since August 2005.
Firms markedly reduced purchasing activity during October, with panellists indicating that protracted falls in demand and output had reduced the requirement for input goods. A record decline in the quantity of purchases bought reduced pressures on suppliers, resulting in a sharp improvement in delivery times. Stocks of pre-production inventories also contracted considerably, as firms delay purchases at a time of heightened uncertainty.
At 32.0, the seasonally adjusted New Orders Index signalled the sharpest decline in incoming new business to the Italian manufacturing sector in the history of the survey. Moreover, the index fell considerably from 40.4 reported in September. Over 53% of respondents recorded a fall in new order books, reporting that the world wide economic downturn had strongly affected domestic demand and that the financial crisis had forced clients to hold off purchasing activity.
New orders received from abroad also plunged during October, as signalled by the seasonally adjusted New Export Orders Index posting 38.5, falling substantially from 44.5 in September. A sharper decline in new orders has only previously been recorded once before, in October 2001 (the aftermath of the US terrorist attacks). Panellists indicated that the world wide financial crisis had been the main driver, and that demand from key export markets including eastern Europe and the US, had been notably affected.
Staffing levels in the Italian manufacturing sector were cut at the fastest rate in the survey history during October. At 45.5, the seasonally adjusted Employment Index fell from 48.7 recorded in September, to indicate a marked rate of job shedding. Almost 13% of panel members indicated that employment levels had been cut, reporting that significant declines in demand (from both domestic and overseas markets) was the primary driver. A number of firms also indicated that outgoing staff had not been replaced in order to reduce costs.
At 49.1, the seasonally adjusted Output Prices Index fell from 52.2 in September to signal a decline in factory gate prices for the first time since August 2005. The reading was well below both the twelve-month and long-run series averages of 55.0 and 52.9 respectively. Panellists broadly attributed the cut in tariffs to falling demand leading to increased levels of competition, alongside the abatement of raw materials costs over the month reducing the pressure to raise charges.
Input price inflation eased to a thirty-nine month low in October and, at 50.2, the seasonally adjusted Input Prices Index signalled only a marginal rise in costs. Highlighting the sideways trend, almost 60% of panellists indicated that input costs had remained constant during October. Those panel members facing an increase in costs cited the weak euro/dollar exchange rate as the primary driver. Firms reporting a decline in input costs indicated that a marked fall in the cost of raw materials over the month had been the main contributing factor.
The JP Morgan Global Manufacturing Index Plummets Too
The October contraction in Italy, while undoubtedly revealing in its own right, in fact forms part of a much more general global pattern. Indeed the latest JP Morgan Global PMI report really does makes for quite depressing reading.
The world manufacturing sector suffered its sharpest contraction in survey history during October, as the ongoing retrenchment of global demand and further deepening of the credit market crisis negatively impacted on the trends in output, new orders and employment. The JPMorgan Global Manufacturing PMI posted 41.0, its lowest reading since data were first compiled in January 1998 and a level below the no-change mark of 50.0 for the fifth month in a row.
Output, total new orders and new export orders all contracted at the fastest rates in the survey history in October. With the exception of India, which again bucked the global trend, all of the national manufacturing surveys posted declines in output and new orders. The impact of the downshift in global market conditions also had a far-reaching effect on international trade volumes. Although new export orders fell at a slower rate than total new business, all of the national manufacturing sectors covered by the survey (including India) saw a reduction in new export orders.
"October manufacturing PMI data reinforce the stark retrenchment that the sector is currently facing, with production, total new business and new export orders all falling at record rates. The latest Output Index reading is consistent with a fall in global IP of almost 8%. The only positive from the surveys was a decline in input prices for the first time since August 2003."
David Hensley, Director of Global Economics Coordination at JPMorgan
Economies across the Eurozone are being affected. The French manufacturing purchasing managers index was revised down to a series low 40.6 in October, down from both the 'flash' estimate of 40.8 and September's 43.0 figure, Markit Economics said in a press release issued on Monday.
Disaggregating the figures, the output component fell to an all-time low of 37.8 from September's 41.7 level, while new orders slipped all the way to a series low of 34.9 for the month, down 2.6 points from September's 37.5 level. Purchase quantities and new export orders also saw some new record lows in October, falling to 33.7 and 38.5 respectively.
Germany's manufacturing sector contracted in October at the fastest pace in seven years as incoming orders and output experienced their sharpest declines in more than 12 years. The headline index in the Markit Purchasing Managers Index for what is Europe's biggest economy fell in October to 42.9 from 47.4 the previous month, well below the 50 mark that separates growth from contraction.
Spain's manufacturing sector continued to shrink at a record pace in October, with both output and new orders contracting and employers shedding jobs at a near record pace, according to the latest Markit Economics Purchasing Managers Index published yesterday (Monday). The Markit PMI for Spain dropped to 34.6 in October, the lowest reading registered by any eurozone economy since the series began in February 1998 and down from the already rapid 38.3 point contraction in September. On the PMI system any figure below 50.0 shows contraction while figures over 50.0 show growth. As we can see, according to this indicator Spanish manufacturing has now been weakening steadily since the start of 2006.
Hungary's manufacturing industry contracted sharply in October, with the PMI dropping 5.2 points to hit 44.7 in October - a historic low, and 0.8 points below the previous worst reading registered in October 1998, according to the latest data from the Hungarian Association of Logistics, Purchasing and Inventory Management (HALPIM).
In Poland the ABN Amro Purchasing Managers Index fell for the sixth month running to 43.7 (down from September's 44.9) a record low and well below the neutral reading of 50, according to Markit Economics yesterday. In the Czech Republic, manufacturing output contracted for the seventh month in a row, and the index hit an all-time low of 41.2, just above the revised euro zone figure of 41.1. As the Eurozone itself contracts, these economies which are heavily dependent for exports to the zone will be buffeted, especially now that forex loans for their domestic housing markets have all but dried up.
The US manufacturing PMI dropped back to 38.9 in October from 43.5 in September, indicating a significantly faster rate of decline in manufacturing when comparing October to September. It appears that US manufacturing is experiencing significant demand destruction as a result of recent events. October's reading is the lowest level for the US PMI since September 1982 when it registered 38.8 percent. On the other hand inflationary pressures are evaporating rapidly, and the Prices Index fell to 37, the lowest level since December 2001 when it registered 33.2 percent. Export orders also contracted for the first time in 70 months.
China's PMI dropped to lows not previously seen in October, confirming that the economy of the so-called factory of the world is now decelerating along with everyone else. Two international surveys measuring the PMI independently corroborated the evidence of a cooling Chinese industrial economy.
According to a survey complied by securities firm CLSA, China's PMI fell to 45.2 in October, its third consecutive drop, from 47.7 in September, as new orders and exports, as well as pricing power, were squeezed by the global financial crisis.
"The very sharp fall in the October PMI confirms that China is more integrated into the global economy than ever. Chinese manufacturers are seeing their order books cut, both at home and abroad, as the world economy falls into recession," said Eric Fishwick, CLSA's head of economic research, in a report released Monday. "Costs are falling but so are output prices. The coming 12 months will be difficult ones for manufacturers, China included."
The government-backed China Federation of Logistics purchasing managers' index - published on 1 November - also showed a strong contraction, falling to 44.6 in October, the lowest level since the data began in 2005, from 51.2 in September
Russian manufacturing contracted in October at the slowest pace in over two and a half years as the global financial crisis cut demand, according to the latest reading on VTB Bank Europe's Purchasing Managers' Index, which fell to 46.4 from 49.8 in September. This was the third consecutive month in which Russian industry has been contracting.
Business conditions in the Brazilian manufacturing worsened in October for the first time since June 2006. The headline seasonally adjusted Banco Real Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) posted 45.7, down from 50.4 in September, pointing to a sharp contraction -the fastest in the survey history in fact. The PMI was driven down by accelerated declines in output and new orders, as well as falls in employment and stocks of purchases.
Even in India the seasonally adjusted ABN Amro India Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index dropped steeply in October, falling to a record low of 52.2, down from a reading of 57.3 in September suggesting another sharp deceleration in growth, even if Indian industry managed to keep expanding. The biggest fall was in the new orders sub-index, which dropped to 54.4 in October from 62.6 in September. Perhaps the saving grace in the Indian survey is that most firms said demand remained strong in domestic markets, while it had been international orders which had waned. This can also be seen from the new export orders sub-index, which contracted to 49.7 for the first time in the history of the series. That fits in with the latest data showing that Indian year on year export growth slowed to 10.4% in September. Thus the Indian expansion is still hanging on in there, by its fingernails, but it is hanging on in.