Hungary's May output plunges 30.7% yr/yr, signalling slow rebound

BUDAPEST (Reuters) - Hungary's industrial output HUIND=ECI dropped by an annual 30.7% in May after a 36.8% plunge in April, reflecting the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and suggesting recovery could be slower than expected.

The May annual output figure came in below a -24.4% analyst forecast, data from the Central Statistics Office (KSH) showed on Tuesday.

On monthly terms, output had already increased by 15.6% from April, confirming that the economy started to rebound in May, when lockdowns were eased nationwide as the pandemic ebbed.

However, the volume of output still declined across the board in manufacturing. The fall was especially significant in car manufacturing, the KSH said.

Hungary’s open economy depends on vehicle manufacturing, which all but halted in March.

“The recovery started in May but ... output is still only at its 2013 level and I think we should not dream about reaching the pre-crisis levels in industrial output this year,” said Peter Virovacz, an analyst at ING. He projects the economy will shrink by about 5% this year, more than the 3% projected by the government.

Virovacz said that in May, June and July companies would be fulfilling a backlog in orders. When those run out, the new orders could be “massively” below last year’s as the global drop in demand would have its impact on Hungary.

Tourism came to a standstill in April and remained all but frozen in May, with guest nights down 93% in annual terms, separate data showed on Tuesday.

Germany's luxury carmaker Daimler DAIGn.DE and Japan's Suzuki 7269.T, as well as Audi NSUG.DE, resumed limited production at their Hungarian units late in April. They began to increase shifts at their factories only in the second half of May as the economy gradually opened up.

Reporting by Krisztina Than, editing by Larry King