India’s HSBC Services PMI contracts in May as firms hike prices

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New Delhi | Updated: June 03, 2015 12:40 PM

The HSBC Services Purchasing Managers' Index, compiled by Markit, fell below the 50 level that separates growth from contraction, coming in at a 13-month low of 49.6 in May from April's 52.4.

Service PMIThe HSBC Services Purchasing Managers’ Index, compiled by Markit, fell below the 50 level that separates growth from contraction, coming in at a 13-month low of 49.6 in May from April’s 52.4.(Reuters)

India’s services sector activity contracted for the first time in 13 months in May, largely due to decline in new order flows amid competitive pressure and natural disasters, an HSBC survey said on Wednesday.

The HSBC India Services Business Activity Index, which tracks changes in activity at service companies, fell to 49.6 in May, from 52.4 in April since output prices in the private sector rose further, with the rate of inflation strongest in 13 months.

The index went below the crucial 50 mark, which separates growth from contraction, for the first time in 13 months.

Competitive pressure and natural disasters also led to the decrease in new business inflows, which declined for the first time since April 2014, HSBC said.

“Restrained demand accompanied by sweltering heat and the earthquake led to falling new work.

Nonetheless, the sector is expected to see a rebound in coming months as these factors fade away,” Markit Economist Pollyanna De Lima said.

Meanwhile, the seasonally-adjusted HSBC India Composite PMI Output Index — which maps both manufacturing and services sectors — fell to a 7-month low of 51.2 in May, from 52.5 in April.

“Disappointing May PMI data for India services indicated that the sector fell back into contraction after experiencing growth for six successive months,” De Lima said.

HSBC, however, noted that the prospects for the private sector output may perk up, going forward.
“An upturn in employment combined with improved business confidence further add to the evidence that prospects may brighten,” Lima added.

Service providers’ optimism was maintained in May as improved marketing strategies and better economic conditions are expected to lead to better business activity over the next one year.

Undeterred by weaker demand, Indian services companies hired additional workers in May. However, the job creation was only fractional as the vast majority of survey participants signalled unchanged levels of staffing.

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