The Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) of Vietnam rose to 53.5 in April from 50.7 in the previous month, thereby signalling a solid improvement in business conditions, said HSBC Vietnam and Markit Economics Limited.

The two agencies’ press release issued on May 4 said the improvement was the strongest since the series began in April 2011. Business conditions have now strengthened in each of the past 20 months.

According to HSBC’s experts, driving the overall improvement in business conditions was a sharp increase in new business as a number of firms reported having secured new customers. The number of new orders from abroad was also surged, contributing to the improvement. The rate of expansion was the sharpest in the series history.

Higher new orders led to a 19th successive monthly increase in manufacturing production, with the rate of expansion quickening to the fastest since April 2011.

Manufacturers took on extra staff in order to help meet production requirements in April. The modest rise in employment followed a decrease in March.

Similar to months since last November, input costs in April decreased. Panellists reported lower costs for materials including oil, iron and steel, while some respondents had requested price reductions from suppliers. The latest fall in input costs was the slowest in five months. Decreasing input prices was the main factor behind a further reduction in charges at Vietnamese manufacturing firms.

Increases in new business led to a sharp rise in purchasing activity during April. Input buying has now risen in each of the past 20 months, with the latest expansion in April was the strongest since April last year.

Stocks of finished goods also increased, following a decline in the previous month.

“Growth of the Vietnamese manufacturing sector stepped up a gear in April, with the latest set of numbers the most impressive in the four-year survey history. Central to the improvement was success for firms in securing new clients, helped by a continued lack of inflationary pressure,” Andrew Harker, Senior Economist at Markit was quoted by the press release as saying.-VNA