China’s manufacturing industry returned to growth in March after the collapse in February and managed to place its benchmark indicator, the purchasing manager index (PMI), at 52 points, after 35.7 last month due to the slowdown caused the coronavirus, according to official data released today.
The figure, released by the National Statistics Office (ONE), represents the highest growth in at least the last twelve months and the fastest increase since September 2017.
It also exceeded analysts’ expectations, which expected a recovery to 45 points, but without returning to the terrain of growth.
In this index, a record above the threshold of 50 points implies growth and below, contraction.
In February, the coronavirus crisis caused a decline in manufacturing even greater than that recorded in its worst reading so far, that of November 2008 (38.8 points), when the world was facing the financial crisis.
In the breakdown by company size, the large ones grew in March 16.3 points to 52.6; the medians, 16 points up to 51.5; and the small ones, 16.8 points up to 50.9.
The five sub-indices that make up the manufacturing PMI registered increases of between 15.1 and 26.3 integers: the production index stood at 54.1 points; that of new orders, at 52; that of employment, at 50.9; that of the delivery time used by suppliers, at 48.2, and that of supplies of raw materials, at 49.
In non-manufacturing businesses, it returned to growth, with 52.3 points, after a disastrous February (29.6 points), which registered the only contraction since the historical series of this indicator began in 2007.
The services sector, which represents more than half of the country’s GDP, gained 27.1 points in March, the month in which it finished at 51.8.
ONE indicates that, in the breakdown of these businesses, all attended a rebound except those related to financial and monetary services and capital market services, which remained in the expansion zone.
As for the economic activity expectation index, which measures the confidence of non-manufacturing companies in the development of the market in the future, it increased 17.3 points to 57.3, which, according to ONE, “indicates that the Confidence in recent market events has recovered. “
The PMI Comprehensive Production Index, the combined X-ray of manufacturing and non-manufacturing industries, returned to 53 points in January, after plummeting to 28.9 in February.
However, for ONE, the good data this month on the indicator “does not mean that China’s economic performance has returned to normal levels”, as there are still companies that have not resumed activity after the stoppage caused by the pandemic of coronavirus, which has left at least 3,305 dead in the country.