China Manufacturing Reading Surprises

China’s manufacturing may contract for the first time in six months, adding to stresses in the world’s second-biggest economy, according to a gauge released by HSBC Holdings Plc and Markit Economics.

The preliminary reading of 49.6 for January in a Purchasing Managers’ Index (EC11FLAS) released today was below a final figure of 50.5 in December and all 19 estimates of analysts in a Bloomberg News survey. A number above 50 indicates expansion.

Asian stocks and the Australian dollar extended losses as the data pointed to weakening domestic and global demand. While Bank of America Corp. cautioned that figures may have been distorted by workers’ holidays ahead of the Lunar New Year, a manufacturing slowdown would add to strains that include elevated interest rates and the risk of defaults on high-yield investment products.


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