Activity in China’s factory sector dipped to a 11-month low in March as new orders shrank, a private survey showed, signaling persistent weakness in the world’s second-largest economy that will likely fuel calls for more policy easing to support growth. The flash HSBC/Markit Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) dipped to 49.2 in March, below the 50-point level that separates growth in activity from a contraction on a monthly basis.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast a reading of 50.6, slightly weaker than February’s final PMI of 50.7. “A renewed fall in total new business contributed to a weaker expansion of output, while companies continued to trim their workforce numbers,” said Annabel Fiddes, an economist at Markit said.
“Manufacturing companies continued to benefit from falling input costs, stemming from the recent global oil price decline. However, relatively muted client demand has led firms to pass on savings in a bid to boost new work, and cut their selling prices at a similarly sharp rate.” Stocks in China .CSI300 and Hong Kong .HSI fell after the factory survey, while the Australian dollar dipped AUD=D4.
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