Stocks

Growth in China's factory activity slows in Aug, floods disrupt production

Credit: REUTERS/CHINA DAILY

China's factory activity grew at a slower pace in August as floods across southwestern China disrupts production while smaller firms continued to struggle, potentially tempering a robust recovery for the economy from the coronavirus shock.

BEIJING, Aug 31 (Reuters) - China's factory activity grew at a slower pace in August as floods across southwestern China disrupts production while smaller firms continued to struggle, potentially tempering a robust recovery for the economy from the coronavirus shock.

The official manufacturing Purchasing Manager's Index (PMI) fell slightly to 51 in August from 51.1 in July, data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed on Monday. It remained above the 50-point mark that separates growth from contraction on a monthly basis.

Analysts had expected it to pick up a touch to 51.2.

China's vast industrial sector is steadily returning to the levels seen before the pandemic paralysed huge swathes of the economy, as pent-up demand, stimulus-driven infrastructure expansion and surprisingly resilient exports propel a recovery, but the recovery remains uneven.

A sub-index for the activity of small firms stood at 47.7 in August, down from July's 48.6, with over half of them reporting a lack of market demand and more than 40% of them reporting financial strains, Zhao Qinghe, a senior statistician with the NBS, said in a separate statement.

"In addition, some companies in Chongqing and Sichuan reported an impact from the heavy rains and floods, resulting in a prolonged procurement cycle for raw materials, reduced orders and a pullback in factory production."

The official PMI, which largely focuses on big and state-owned firms, also showed the sub-index for new export orders stood at 49.1 in August, improving from 48.4 a month earlier and suggesting a bottoming out in the contractionary trend after COVID hit.

Economic indicators ranging from trade to producer prices all suggest a further pick up in the industrial sector. Profits at China's industrial firms last month grew at the fastest pace since June 2018, official data showed on Thursday.

Investment bank HSBC expects China's economy would grow by 5.4% in the third quarter from the same period a year ago, followed by a 6.2% expansion in the fourth quarter, returning China's growth to pre-COVID levels.

But some analysts fear that the recovery could stall, hurt by rising tensions between Washington and Beijing and as another wave of local infections returns in the winter.

The economy, which grew 3.2% in the second quarter year-on-year, is set to expand 2.2% this year - the weakest in over three decades.

A top decision-making body of China's ruling Communist Party said last month that Beijing will ensure adequate policy support for the economy in the second half.

In the services sector, activity also expanded for the sixth straight month, as authorities lift nationwide COVID-19 restrictions on public gatherings, bolstering consumer demand.

(Reporting by Stella Qiu and Ryan Woo Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

((yifan.qiu@thomsonreuters.com))

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

Latest Markets Videos

Reuters

Reuters, the news and media division of Thomson Reuters, is the world’s largest international multimedia news provider reaching more than one billion people every day. Reuters provides trusted business, financial, national, and international news to professionals via Thomson Reuters desktops, the world's media organizations, and directly to consumers at Reuters.com and via Reuters TV.

Learn More