China’s vast factory sector grew a shade faster in October as firms drew more foreign and domestic orders, a private survey showed on Thursday, though analysts said the figure does not point to a fourth-quarter turnaround for the cooling economy. The flash HSBC/Markit manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) edged up to a three-month high of 50.4 from a final reading of 50.2 in September, and just a hair’s breadth from the 50.3 reading forecast by analysts.
However, while the headline number looked slightly better, manufacturing activity remained subdued and details pointed to continued weakness on a number of fronts. Growth in new orders at home and abroad slowed in October and producer prices fell, pushing factory inflation to a seven-month low and highlighting still-soft domestic demand.
The level of output in factories also fell to a five-month low of 50.7, just above the 50-point level that separates growth from contraction on a monthly basis. “The sub-indices do not show good momentum,” said Shuang Ding, an economist at Citi in Hong Kong.