June 1, 2020 / 7:36 AM / a month ago

Spain's factories pick up pace in May as lockdown eases: PMI

FILE PHOTO - An empty parking lot is seen through a fence at Nissan factory at Zona Franca during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Barcelona, Spain, May 26, 2020. REUTERS/ Albert Gea

MADRID (Reuters) - Spanish factory activity began to resume in May after grinding to its slowest pace in almost 12 years in April as one of Europe’s strictest coronavirus lockdowns eased, a survey showed on Monday.

IHS Markit’s Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) of manufacturing companies rose to 38.3 in May from 30.8 in April, the biggest increase in a single month since the survey started in February 1998.

Restrictions on non-essential economic activity in Spain and around the globe had sparked record falls in production, new orders and exports in April.

The Spanish economy shrank by the widest margin on record in the first quarter. The International Monetary Fund has predicted a contraction of 8% in 2020 and Spain’s central bank has forecast a recession of up to 12.4%.

In May, the restrictions were gradually eased all over the country as contagion rates and the number of coronavirus fatalities slowed. Some areas of Spain are almost back to normal.

Reporting by Inti Landauro; Editing by Catherine Evans

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