Surveys show China manufacturing holds steady in sign of sluggish recovery in No. 2 economy

HONG KONG – Chinese manufacturing barely expanded in November, growing at about the same rate as the previous month, two surveys showed in further evidence that the world’s No. 2 economy is undergoing a sluggish recovery.

HSBC’s purchasing managers’ index released Monday slipped to 50.8 from 50.9 in October, on a 100-point scale on which numbers above 50 indicate expansion.

HSBC said that while November’s reading was little changed, it was the second-highest level in eight months, indicating China’s massive manufacturing industries are improving, though marginally.

The reading was also an improvement from a preliminary reading of 50.4 released earlier last month.

“China’s manufacturing sector kept relatively steady growth momentum in November, as the final manufacturing PMI was revised up from the flash reading on the back of faster new business gains,” HSBC economist Qu Hongbin said.

The report comes a day after an official survey that found manufacturing activity was unchanged.

The China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing said on Sunday that its PMI remained at 51.4, the same as October.

China’s leaders are counting on a continuing recovery to avoid the need for further stimulus as they focus on longer-term reforms aimed at reorienting the economy to growth based on domestic consumption instead of exports and investment.

China’s economic growth rose to 7.8 per cent in the third quarter after slumping to a two-decade low of 7.5 per cent in the previous three months.

The HSBC report, based on responses from 420 businesses, found that manufacturing output grew for the fourth straight month and at the strongest pace since March.

New orders also expanded at the fastest rate in eight months, although new orders from customers in the U.S. and Europe expanded by a fraction, “suggesting that new order growth was largely driven by domestic demand,” the report said.