Sun, Apr 02, 2017 - Page 16 News List

China manufacturing up slightly in March: Caixin

AFP, BEIJING

China’s manufacturing activity expanded slightly last month, independent figures showed yesterday, suggesting steady, but slowing growth in the world’s second-largest economy.

The figures compare with an official reading released on Friday hinting that a years-long growth slowdown in China might be easing, although concerns remain about the outlook for world trade in light of US President Donald Trump’s protectionist policies.

Investors watch the private Caixin Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) — an indicator of conditions at small manufacturers — as a sign of China’s economic health.

The figure came in at 51.2 for last month, down from 51.7 in February, but still among the highest seen over the past four years. A PMI figure greater than 50 indicates growth while anything below points to contraction.

The Chinese financial magazine Caixin said the one-year outlook for growth remained strong and jobs were cut at a marginal pace.

However, it added that more manufacturers showed cautionary attitudes toward inventories and new export sales increased at their weakest pace in three months.

“Overall, the Chinese manufacturing economy continued to improve, but signs of a weakening have started to emerge ahead of the second quarter,” Caixin analyst Zhong Zhengsheng (鍾正生) said in a joint statement with data compiler IHS Markit.

On Friday, official figures focusing on larger factories and mines came in at 51.8, slightly beating the 51.7 forecast in a Bloomberg News survey and an increase from February’s 51.6.

Beijing has said it wants to reorient its economy away from debt-fueled investment toward a consumer-driven model, but the transition has proved bumpy, leading to the slower growth readings in recent years.

China’s economy expanded 6.7 percent for the whole of last year, its slowest rate in a quarter of a century.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (李克強) last month said the economy faced severe challenges, signaling a further deceleration as he announced a trimmed GDP growth target for this year of about 6.5 percent.

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