Zambia’s Stanbic/Markit PMI rose further in October, coming in at a 20-month high of 48.9 from 46.6 in the month prior. This was the second straight month the index has risen, suggesting the worst of the coronavirus pandemic may be over. Markit survey results show that new or-ders fell slightly, while the decline in output was the weakest for 20 months. Similarly, softer reductions were seen in employment and pur-chasing activity at the start of Q4. Business confidence meanwhile ticked higher but remained well below the series average amid ongoing un-certainty. While the index reading improved in October, it nevertheless remained below the 50-point neutral mark. Going forward, an unfa-vorable domestic backdrop and uncertain external environment suggest that private sector operating conditions may struggle to recover meaningfully in the near-term.