Kenya business conditions worsen in April due to COVID-19 -PMI

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NAIROBI (Reuters) – Kenya’s private sector activity declined sharply in April as businesses reeled from the impact of the coronavirus, a survey showed on Wednesday.

The Markit Stanbic Bank Kenya Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) for manufacturing and services tumbled to 34.8 in April from 37.5 in March. Readings below 50.0 indicate a contraction.

“It’s safe to say that, at least with anecdotal evidence available so far, the epicentre of the COVID-19 impact on economic activity will be in the second quarter of this year,” said Jibran Qureishi, economist for East Africa at Stanbic Bank.

Demand at home and in export markets slumped as consumers stayed indoors to avoid catching the virus and because of government measures to contain its spread.

“Output, new orders, exports and employment, all reached record lows,” Markit and Stanbic said.

The East African nation has so far confirmed 490 cases of COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus, and the government has imposed restrictions including a dusk-to-dawn curfew, to curb its spread.

The government expects the economy to grow by as little as 1% this year, compared with a pre-pandemic forecast of about 6%, due to the impact of the disease.

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Reporting by Duncan Miriri; Editing by Catherine Evans

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