China’s manufacturing activity expanded in March after 5 months of lull

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BEIJING (AP) — Manufacturing in China expanded after March contract for five consecutive monthsIndustrial activity showed signs of picking up again after the Lunar New Year holidays, according to an official survey of factory managers released on Sunday.

The official purchasing managers’ index, or PMI, rose to 50.8 in March from 49.1 in February. The PMI is on a scale up to 100, where 50 represents the difference between expansion and contraction.

The monthly manufacturing PMI has mostly been below 50 over the past 12 months: apart from this month, factory activity has recorded expansion only in September.

Zhao Qinghe, senior statistician at the National Bureau of Statistics, said the market has become more active as companies reopen and production ramps up after the Lunar New Year holidays. Many factories stopped working over the holidays, with social media posts showing that some companies had workers on leave for up to 140 days through the end of 2023 due to a lack of new orders.

Zhao said the survey also showed that some problems remain for companies, including increasing competition across industries and declining market demand.

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Zhao said policies promoting trade-in of consumer goods and large-scale equipment upgrading still need further implementation to support the high-quality development of the manufacturing industry.

According to the survey released on Sunday, the non-manufacturing PMI rose to 53 from 51.4 in February. This reading is the highest after June 2023.

The recovery of the world’s second-largest economy after the shock of the pandemic faced several hurdles, the biggest of which were recession in real estate industry Following the move by authorities to curb excess borrowing by property developers.

The ruling Communist Party aims to grow the economy by about 5% this year, an ambition that economists say may be difficult to achieve.

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