The Nikkei Malaysia Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index registered 47.6 in February, down from 47.9 in January, thereby pointing to a sharper deterioration in manufacturing sector business conditions. A 69th straight month of growth in manufacturing activity saw the sector's PMI reading jump to 54.0, from 52.6 in January.
"The impact of Brexit was evident in numerous components of the PMI as some firms moved to take action to avoid possible disruption to supply chains", he said.
A number of panellists surveyed as part of the Index said they had brought forward purchases of inputs in order to secure raw materials in case of any stock problems resulting from Brexit.
"Some firms also reported rising demand from the United Kingdom ahead of Brexit".
"The sector's sickness was also visible in employment levels with the steepest job losses in six years and with business optimism at its lowest levels since 2012, firms are unlikely to start hiring any time soon". Purchasing activity grew in line with forecasts for an increase in production in the coming months.
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New export businesses expanded, while less pronounced slowdowns in output and new orders were seen, the report said.
Growth of new work quickened from January amid reports from panellists of greater domestic and worldwide demand, notably from the USA and UK.
Trade tensions and the risk of Britain leaving the European Union this month without a deal have hit exporters in Europe's largest economy, which posted its weakest growth rate in five years last year.
Giving little hope for a turnaround in the bloc's fortune anytime soon, new orders fell at the fastest rate in nearly six years, backlogs of work were run down, purchases of raw materials were curtailed and hiring remained weak.
Additionally, employment growth quickened to a four month high, amid reports of greater customer demand.