Manufacturing News

March keeps Feb factory momentum up

Factories in China continued to see steady activity in March, a private sector survey showed on Monday.

Experts suggested policy efforts should be further scaled up to boost consumption, create jobs and energize domestic demand to beef up growth.

The Caixin China General Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index came in at 50 in March, media group Caixin said on Monday, down from February's reading of 51.6. The 50-point mark separates growth from contraction.

The Caixin report said the vitality of manufacturing activities in March more or less stayed at the same level as in February, yet the recovery momentum eased. Such a trend is in line with the country's official manufacturing PMI released by the National Bureau of Statistics last Friday, which fell to 51.9 in March from 52.6 in February, as "growth for new orders and new exports orders eased", in the words of an NBS statistician.

The Caixin report noted that sub-indexes of both manufacturing production and total new orders stayed in expansion territory, yet increased at a softer pace. In addition, manufacturing employment saw a gentle fall in March after the jump in February.

This, experts said, indicates that employment in manufacturing and nonmanufacturing sectors likely contracted in March, casting a shadow over the job market.

The report also recorded an improved supplier capacity and stock availability amid looser COVID-19 restrictions, which underpinned a further improvement in vendor performance during March. Though marginal, it was only the third time that lead times have shortened since 2018.

"The new figure shows that even after a short period of release of pent-up demand, the foundation for economic recovery is not yet solid," said Wang Zhe, a senior economist at Caixin Insight Group.

"Yet despite a moderated growth in manufacturing activities, the March manufacturing PMI figure proves the strong momentum of February has been largely maintained. In addition, we've noticed in the survey that market expectations remain pretty optimistic."

Going forward, importance should be given to the task of expanding domestic demand, he said.

"Looking ahead, growth will rely further on boosting domestic demand, in particular, on energizing household consumption. Only through every possible effort to stabilize and increase employment, lift household income and improve market expectations can the government's goal of effectively restoring and expanding consumption be realized."

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