New Delhi: India’s manufacturing sector activity in June grew at the strongest pace this year, supported by rise in domestic and export orders, according to a monthly survey. The Nikkei India Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) rose to 53.1 in June from 51.2 in May, registering the fastest improvement since December 2017. This is the 11th consecutive month that the manufacturing PMI remained above the 50-point mark—a score above 50 means expansion, while below that denotes contraction.

“India’s manufacturing economy closed the quarter on a solid footing against a backdrop of robust demand conditions, highlighted by the sharpest gains in output and new orders since last December," said Aashna Dodhia, economist at IHS Markit and author of the report.

Reflecting greater production requirements, manufacturing firms were encouraged to engage in purchasing activity and raise their staffing levels.

“On the jobs front, the latest survey data pointed to a healthy labour market, with job creation accelerating to the sharpest since December 2017," Dodhia said.

On the price front, input cost inflation and output charges rose at a stronger pace, indicating that the central bank might tighten the monetary policy. “Input cost inflation quickened to the strongest since July 2014 in June, suggesting that the central bank could remain under pressure to tighten monetary policy," Dodhia added.

In June the Reserve Bank of India had upped its retail inflation projection by 0.30% and kept the policy stance in the neutral zone, even as it hiked the key rate by 0.25% to 6.25%.

Meanwhile, business confidence eased to the weakest since last October, and the dip in optimism partly reflected concerns of a potential market slowdown in the year ahead. “Indeed, some of the key challenges to the 12-month outlook include tighter domestic monetary policy and persistently high inflation," Dodhia said.