China’s December factory activity slows, recovery on track

BEIJING (AFP) – Factory activity in China slowed slightly in December, data showed yesterday, though it continued to grow as the world’s second-largest economy stays on track to recover from the coronavirus crisis.

While the rest of the world has struggled to overcome the deadly virus, China has bounced back from a rare contraction in the first three months of the year and is expected to be the only major economy to avoid a recession this year.

The closely watched Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) – a key gauge of manufacturing activity in China – dipped to 51.9 from 52.1 in November, the National Bureau of Statistics said. It was also slightly lower than the 52.0 forecast by analysts. The dip came as demand for Chinese exports was hit by fresh lockdowns and strict containment measures in key markets including Europe and the United States (US).

Still, NBS statistician Zhao Qinghe said the country’s economic recovery “remained strong”.

“The overall manufacturing sector maintained a steady recovery, with the pace at a relatively high level for the year,” Zhao said. The manufacturing PMI collapsed to a record low of 35.7 in February after the virus brought much of China to a standstill but economic recovery helped it bounce back to a three-year high in November.