First China manufacturing shrinkage in seven months

First China manufacturing shrinkage in seven months

BEIJING - Agence France-Presse
First China manufacturing shrinkage in seven months

Employees transport tyres at a factory in Zhejiang province in this file photo. REUTERS photo

Manufacturing activity in China contracted in May for the first time in seven months, HSBC said Thursday, in another sign of the weakness of recovery in the world’s second-largest economy.

The British banking giant’s preliminary purchasing managers’ index (PMI) fell to 49.6 this month from a final 50.4 in April, putting it below the 50 mark that indicates contraction. A reading above signals expansion.

It was the lowest figure since October’s 49.5, according to the bank’s data, and the first time it had been below 50 since then.

The index tracks manufacturing activity and is a closely watched barometer of the health of the economy. The final result for May will be released on June 3. Analysts said the figure was the result of both domestic and overseas economic woes.

“The cooling manufacturing activities in May reflected slower domestic demand and ongoing external headwinds,” said Qu Hongbin, an HSBC economist in Hong Kong, adding the slowdown cast “downside risk to China’s fragile growth recovery”.

The government should provide more support for the sluggish job market, possibly through measures such as training subsidies and tax cuts for employers, he said in a statement.

China grew at its slowest pace in 13 years in 2012, with gross domestic product expanding 7.8 percent in the face of weakness at home and in key overseas markets.