China's official manufacturing PMI hits 51.9% in March; economic activity continues picking up: NBS
Published: Mar 31, 2023 02:02 PM
Photo: CFP

Photo: CFP

China's manufacturing activity maintained its push into expansion territory for the third consecutive month in March, an official index showed on Friday, as economic development continues to recover.

China's official manufacturing purchasing managers' index (PMI) beat expectations and came in at 51.9 in March, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) on Friday.

The reading, together with the official non-manufacturing PMI and official composite PMI has been at above the 50-point mark that separates expansion and contraction in activity for three consecutive months since January, reflecting that China's economic development is stabilizing and picking up, according to senior NBS statistician Zhao Qinghe.

Affected by the high base of the previous month, the manufacturing PMI reading was down from 52.6 in February but is still among the highest in nearly two years.

"In March, influenced by factors such as the high base of the previous month, manufacturing PMI fell, with the prosperity level still at its second highest point for the past two years, and 13 of the 21 industries surveyed recording a PMI higher than the previous month," Zhao said.

In terms of sub-indexes, the production index and the new order index were 54.6 and 53.6, respectively, down 2.1 and 0.5 percentage points from the previous month. New export orders fell to 50.4 from 52.4 in February.

The decline in the manufacturing PMI in March reflected the weakening demand of overseas orders as impact of high interest rates began to bite, experts said.

However, they also noted that the monthly fluctuations are normal, expecting the manufacturing PMI to run above the expansion range in the coming months.

"After a strong rebound in January and February, manufacturing activity saw an expected slowdown in March," Zhou Maohua, an economist from Everbright Bank told the Global Times on Friday.

Over all the manufacturing PMI reading, which has remained in expansion territory for three consecutive months, reflects that the domestic manufacturing industry has been basically consolidated, Zhou said.

Wu Chaoming, deputy head of the Chasing Research Institute told the Global Times on Friday that the manufacturing PMI is expected to remain in expansion range and keep strong momentum over coming months, as industrial production activity picks up seasonally from March to May.

The official non-manufacturing PMI, which measures business sentiment in the services and construction sectors, shot up to 58.2 in March from 56.3 in February, also to a high point in recent years, according to the NBS.

The official composite PMI, which includes both manufacturing and services activity, rose to 57 in March, up from 56.4 in February, remaining the high booming trend, indicating that production and operation of Chinese enterprises continue to improve overall.

Global Times