China manufacturing picks up but activity still shrinking: data

 01 Jan 2016 - 16:05

China manufacturing picks up but activity still shrinking: data
Steel pipes are loaded onto ships for export in eastern China's Jiangsu province


Beijing: A gauge of Chinese factory activity ticked up slightly in December but continued to indicate contraction for a fifth straight month, official data showed Friday, underlining weakness in the world's second-largest economy.

China is a key driver of global growth and investors closely watch the Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) -- which tracks activity in the factories and workshops sector -- as a barometer of the country's economic health.

The mild improvement follows a string of stimulus measures from Beijing, including six interest rate cuts in the year up to November as well as reductions in the amount of cash banks must keep in reserve, both intended to boost lending.

The government statistics bureau said the PMI came in at 49.7 in December, slightly better than the 49.6 in registered in November, which represented a three-year low.

A PMI figure above 50 signals expanding activity while anything below indicates shrinkage.

"Although PMI slightly rebounded this month, it still lies below the critical point and is lower than historic levels over the same period," said Zhao Qinghe, senior statistician with the National Bureau of Statistic, in a statement on the bureau's official website.

The figures are the latest to highlight a growth slowdown in the economy, which expanded 6.9 percent in July-September, the weakest rate since the 2009, during the global financial crisis.

Many analysts believe the actual increase was even lower, due to factors such as the weak PMI readings.

AFP