China March factory growth slowest in 5 months

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Source: Market Watch Personal Finance

BEIJING–Activity in China’s factories expanded at the slowest pace in five months in March, a private gauge indicated, in contrast with official data showing manufacturing activity at a three-month high.

The Caixin China manufacturing purchasing managers’ index dropped to 51.0 in March from 51.6 in February, Caixin Media Co. and research firm Markit said Monday. The 50 level separates an expansion in manufacturing activity from a contraction.

The weaker reading follows official data released Saturday showing a rebound to 51.5 from February’s holiday-affected 50.3.

New orders grew at the slowest rate in four months, due to muted foreign demand and only a slight improvement in external demand, Caixin said.

Production levels rose at the slowest pace since November as a result of lukewarm demand, Caixin said.

“Demand was not as strong as expected, leading to lower willingness of manufacturers to produce and restock,” Zhengsheng Zhong, an economist at CEBM Group, said in a statement accompanying Monday’s release.

The Caixin China Manufacturing PMI is based on data compiled from monthly replies to questionnaires sent to purchasing executives at more than 400 manufacturing companies.

Compared with the official gauge’s coverage of firms including large state-owned companies, the Caixin PMI tends to track small, private manufacturers more closely.

Write to Liyan Qi at liyan.qi@wsj.com

Source: Market Watch Personal Finance