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Manufacturing PMI in China edges down to five-month low in February

Staff writer ▼ | March 1, 2016
Operating conditions faced by Chinese goods producers continued to deteriorate in February. Prices data indicated weaker deflationary pressures, with both selling prices and input costs declining at modest rates.
Chinese workers
Asia   Caixin China General Manufacturing PMI
Output and total new orders both declined at slightly faster rates than at the start of 2016, which in turn contributed to the quickest reduction in staffing levels since January 2009, MarkIt reports.

Lower production was a key factor leading to the steepest fall in stocks of finished goods in nearly four-and-a-half years during February. At the same time, lower intakes of new work enabled firms to marginally reduce their level of work-in-hand for the first time in ten months.

Prices data indicated weaker deflationary pressures, with both selling prices and input costs declining at modest rates.

The seasonally adjusted Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) – a composite indicator designed to provide a single-figure snapshot of operating conditions in the manufacturing economy – posted at 48.0 in February, down from 48.4 at the start of the year, and its lowest reading for five months.

Operating conditions have now worsened in each month for the past year. That said, the rate of deterioration remained modest overall.

Manufacturing companies in China signalled a further fall in production during February. Though modest overall, the latest reduction was the quickest seen since September 2015.

Companies that reported lower output generally cited weak market conditions and reduced intakes of new work. Furthermore, total new business declined for the eighth month in a row, albeit at a modest pace that was similar to January.

New export work fell for the third month in a row, albeit at a softer pace.

Staff numbers declined at the sharpest rate since January 2009 during February. Companies that recorded lower headcounts widely commented on company downsizing policies as part of cost-cutting initiatives, along with the non-replacement of voluntary leavers.

Despite lower employment, manufacturers were able to work through outstanding business during February. Though marginal, it was the first reduction in the level of work-in-hand since April 2015.

Lower production requirements led Chinese manufacturers to cut their purchasing activity again in February. The rate of reduction was modest overall, despite quickening since the start of the year.

Consequently, stocks of inputs declined further, though the rate of depletion was similar to that seen throughout the current eight-month sequence and moderate.

Stocks of finished goods also declined in February and at the quickest rate since September 2011. According to panellists, lower output and the delivery of goods to clients had reduced inventory holdings.