China’s factory activity contracted unexpectedly in July after bouncing back from Covid-19 lockdowns the month before, as fresh virus flare-ups and a darkening global outlook weighed on demand, Reuters reports quoting a survey on Sunday.
The official manufacturing purchasing managers’ Index (PMI) fell to 49.0 in July from 50.2 in June, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said, below the 50-point mark that separates contraction from growth and the lowest in three months.
Analysts polled by Reuters had expected a reading of 50.4.
“The level of economic prosperity in China has fallen, the foundation for recovery still needs consolidation,” NBS senior statistician Zhao Qinghe said in a statement on the NBS website.
Continued contraction in the energy-intensive industries, such as petrol, coking coal and ferrous metals, contributed most to pulling down the July manufacturing PMI, he said.
Sub-indexes for output and new orders fell by 3 points and about 2 points in July, respectively, while the employment sub-index edged down by 0.1 point.
Weak demand has constrained recovery, Bruce Pang, chief economist and head of research at Jones Lang Lasalle Inc, said in a research note. “Q3 growth may face greater challenges than expected, as recovery is slow and fragile,” he added.
The official non-manufacturing PMI in July fell to 53.8 from 54.7 in June. The official composite PMI, which includes manufacturing and services, fell to 52.5 from 54.1.
China’s economy barely grew in the second quarter amid widespread lockdowns, and top leaders recently signalled their strict zero-COVID policy would remain a top priority.