South Korea's manufacturing activity shrank last month for a fourth consecutive month and by the fastest pace in nearly three years, a private survey showed, adding urgency to Seoul's efforts to pump a sputtering economy with fresh stimulus.
The Nikkei/Markit Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) on South Korea's manufacturing sector slid to a seasonally adjusted 46.1 last month - the lowest since 45.7 in September 2012 - from 47.8 in May, Markit Economics said in a statement.
It was the fourth consecutive month in which the index was below the 50-point mark that separates expansion and contraction.
A sub-index for new export orders during the month edged down to 47.6 last month from 47.9 in May, also the fourth straight month of contraction that underlined the impact of weak global demand, as growth slows in China - South Korea's main market.
South Korea's domestic consumption has been hit hard by the spread since late May of the deadly Middle East respiratory syndrome, prompting the central bank to cut interest rates to a record low early last month.
The government also drew up a stimulus package worth over US$13 billion (S$17.6 billion).
Order books at Indian factories filled up at the slowest pace since September last year, dampening overall manufacturing activity and putting companies off from hiring staff, a business survey has shown.
The Nikkei Manufacturing PMI compiled by Markit fell to 51.3 last month from 52.6 in May, but stayed above the 50-point mark for the 20th month.
The PMI survey suggested demand for Indian goods was cooling at home and abroad.
The new orders sub-index came in at its lowest reading since September at 51.8 from 54.3. Companies kept price increases to a minimum last month, good news for an economy that has long battled high inflation.
The Reserve Bank of India has eased policy three times this year, taking the repo rate - the level at which it lends to commercial banks - down to 7.25 per cent from 8 per cent.
India's inflation rate has cooled dramatically, coming in at 5.01 per cent in May compared with a peak of more than 11 per cent in 2013.
Australia's manufacturing sector slumped last month after recording its first growth in six months in May. The Australian Industry Group (Ai Group) Manufacturing PMI dropped 8.1 points to 44.2 last month, the lowest reading of the index since July 2013.
Ai Group said manufacturing sales declined for a 13th straight month, an indicator of weakness in local demand.
The ongoing decline of the Australian automotive industry was a major factor. But there were some good news too.
Exports expanded for a second month, mainly in the food and beverage sector, as the weaker dollar continued to support export growth.
Euro zone factory growth picked up slightly last month but remained tepid as uncertainty around Greek debt talks - and the country's possible exit from the bloc - swept across the region, a survey found yesterday.
Those fears caused Markit's final euro zone manufacturing PMI to nudge up to a 14-month high of 52.5 last month from May's 52.2, in line with a preliminary reading published before the fears intensified.
Further expansion was also curtailed by lacklustre growth in Germany and France, the euro zone's two biggest economies, and Markit said manufacturing provided only a modest boost to the wider economy.
Despite weak growth and demand, factories raised prices at the fastest rate since late 2013.
The output price index rose to 51 from 50.
That will be welcome news for the European Central Bank, which earlier this year embarked on a trillion-euro quantitative easing programme to drive up inflation and growth.
Official figures on Tuesday showed prices in the bloc rose 0.2 per cent last month.
Manufacturing expanded last month at the fastest pace in five months, indicating domestic demand is allowing American factories to withstand sluggish overseas economies.
The Institute for Supply Management's (ISM) factory index increased to 53.5 last month from 52.8 the prior month, the group's report showed yesterday.
A gain in orders last month indicates that American customers are providing a cushion for factories against a backdrop of limited prospects for overseas sales.
But, without stronger business investment to complement a rebound in consumer spending, a more pronounced pickup in manufacturing that spurs the economy may prove elusive.
The ISM's new orders measure improved to 56 last month, the highest this year, from 55.8 in May, while the production gauge eased to 54 from 54.5.
The measure of manufacturing employment increased to 55.5, the highest since December, from 51.7 in May.