In March, new business expansion was the fastest since December, thanks to an improvement in underlying demand and efforts to increase new orders. This growth has also led to a rise in business confidence, with hopes that new product lines, expansion plans and increased client budgets will help boost sales. Despite better sales and business confidence, there was no significant increase in employment levels. The employment level fell for the second month in a row in March, although the rate of job losses decreased from February. Respondents attributed this decline in payroll to staff resignations and redundancies to improve productivity.

Both the manufacturing and service sectors experienced growth in supply and demand, with improved exports and sustained market optimism. This acceleration in growth, along with a positive Caikin manufacturing PMI, pushed the composite PMI up to 52.7 last month from 52.5 in February. This was the highest reading since May 2023. Economist Wang Zhe of Caikin Insight Group said employment levels continued to decline in both sectors, while input and output prices remained low. This indicates that demand remains weak, despite the overall positive outlook for new business expansion and business confidence.

By Samantha Johnson

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