Manufacturing activity in China slowed slightly last month from the previous month, official data showed yesterday, in a sign of further weakness in the world’s second-biggest economy.
The purchasing managers’ index (PMI) dropped to 50.6 last month, down from 50.9 the month before, according to the National Bureau of Statistics and the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing (CFLP).
The PMI is a widely watched indicator of the health of the Chinese economy, with a reading above 50 indicating expansion while anything below that points to contraction.
Last month’s figure marked the seventh consecutive month of expanding manufacturing activity in the country, but was down slightly from a nearly one-year high the month before.
“The April PMI index fell slightly, indicating that the foundation for economic stabilization is still not solidified,” analyst Zhang Liqun (張立群) said in a CFLP statement.
“A slight slowdown in economic growth is possible,” he said, adding that “effort should be made to stabilize domestic consumption, and increase the sustainability of the stabilization of the economy.”
British bank HSBC, whose survey focuses more on smaller enterprises, said last week that its preliminary PMI for last month stood at 50.5, also down from a final reading of 51.6 in March.
The preliminary result came in lower on the back of decreasing new export orders and employment, according to the bank.
Its final reading for last month will be announced today.
China’s economy expanded 7.8 percent last year, its slowest pace for 13 years, in the face of weakness at home and in key overseas markets.
The government in the middle of last month announced a surprisingly weak economic growth rate of 7.7 percent for the first quarter, below market expectations and fuelling fears the recent pick-up is faltering.