China manufacturing hits year high
SHANGHAI - Agence France-Presse
Employees work on the production line at the Foxconn complex in Shenzhen, China. AP photoChina’s manufacturing activity rose to the highest level in a year, official data showed yesterday, but analysts tempered their enthusiasm, saying the world’s second largest economy was still slowing.
The official purchasing managers index (PMI) rose to 53.1 from 51 in February, helped by an increase in new orders, the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing said in a statement.
It marked the fourth consecutive month of expansion for manufacturing activity. A reading above 50 indicates industry is expanding, while a reading below 50 suggests it is contracting.
The latest figure approached a level not seen since March last year, when PMI reached 53.4, previous data showed. The latest number also beat analysts’ median forecast of 50.5, according to Dow Jones Newswires.
“PMI tends to pick up in March every year... so it is important not to view this as a sign of out-and-out strength,” Alistair Thornton, economist for IHS Global Insight in Beijing, said in a research note.
“At the very least, things are not getting worse,” he added.
China’s economy is widely expected to slow this year as woes in key export markets such as Europe and the United States hit its overseas sales.
The government last month set a target for 7.5 percent economic growth this year. China’s economy grew 9.2 percent last year and 10.4 percent in 2010.
Zhang Liqun, a researcher at government think-tank the Development Research Centre warned overall economic growth was still slowing.
“Future economic growth will still experience a slowdown,” he was quoted as saying in the official PMI statement issued by the industry group.
Analysts said manufacturing activity typically picks up in March with the arrival of spring and following an annual meeting of lawmakers during the month, which sets economic policy for the coming year.
“The government’s PMI may have been affected by seasonal factors, so the reality may not be as good,” Zhang Zhiwei, chief China economist for Nomura Securities, told AFP.
A separate reading of PMI also released yesterday by British banking giant HSBC showed a less optimistic picture than the official figure.
HSBC’s PMI fell to 48.3 in March from 49.6 in February, marking the fifth month manufacturing activity has remained in contraction, the bank said in a statement.
Foxconn VOWS better conditions
BOAO, China - Reuters
Foxconn Technology Group will keep increasing worker salaries in China and cutting work hours, Chairman Terry Gou said on Sunday, after it came under fire for poor working conditions for employees making Apple iPhones and iPads.
Apple and Foxconn agreed last week to tackle violations of conditions among the 1.2 million workers assembling iPhones and iPads in a landmark decision that could change the way Western companies do business in China.
“We are a saying now in the company -- you work fewer hours, but get more pay,” Gou told Reuters at the 2012 Boao Forum for Asia in China’s Hainan island province. “We won’t stop here and will continue to increase salaries.”