Manufacturing activity has tumbled, purchasing managers’ index (PMI) surveys showed on Wednesday, with sharp slowdowns in export powerhouses like Germany and Japan overshadowing a modest improvement in China.
The virus pandemic has infected more than 850,000 people around the globe and forced factories, shops and schools to close amid government-imposed lockdowns, according to Reuters.
This has upended supply chains and crushed demand for goods as consumers worried about job prospects rein in their spending and stay indoors.
In the euro zone, IHS Markit’s final March manufacturing PMI sank to lowest since mid-2012, when the currency union’s debt crisis was raging, and was well below the mark separating growth from contraction.
Data from the United States later on Wednesday is likely to show a sharp decline in factory activity there too as authorities enforce strict lockdown measures to control the spread of the virus.
U.S. consumer confidence has dropped to a near three-year low as the pandemic shakes people’s lives, with a record number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits.
Output from Britain’s factories shrank at the fastest pace since the debt crisis as the spread of coronavirus led to a spiraling of delays and hammered business confidence.
Global fund managers polled by Reuters are convinced the world economy is already in recession, similar to economists’ assessments in another Reuters poll.
As the prospect of a deep recession grows, traders on Wednesday made a fresh dart for the safety of government bonds, the dollar and gold. The International Monetary Fund also said the pandemic was already driving the global economy into recession, calling on countries to respond with “very massive” spending to avoid bankruptcies and emerging market debt defaults.