China's manufacturing activity expands at slower pace in April
The purchasing managers' index (PMI) for China's manufacturing sector came in at 51.1 in April, slightly down from 51.9 of March, data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed Friday.
A reading above 50 indicates expansion, while a reading below reflects contraction.
The manufacturing sector maintained steady growth in April. The manufacturing PMI continued to expand on the basis of the apparent rebound in the previous month, weakening somewhat but still higher than the level of the same period in 2019 and 2020, NBS senior statistician Zhao Qinghe said.
It is worth noting that the manufacturing PMI for small businesses showed a positive improvement in this month's data, said Wen Bin, a chief analyst at China Minsheng Bank.
The PMI for small businesses in the manufacturing sector stood at 50.8, up 0.4 percentage points from the previous month, while that for big and medium-sized companies came in at 51.7 and 50.3, down 1 percentage point and 1.3 percentage points, respectively.
The sub-index for production stood at 52.2, down 1.7 percentage points from a month earlier, while that for new orders shrank 1.6 points to 52, indicating a slowdown in the expansion of production and demand in the manufacturing sector.
The inventory index of raw materials was 48.3 percent, down 0.1 percentage points from the previous month, below the critical point of 50, indicating the inventory of major raw materials in the manufacturing sector decreased compared with the previous month.
Business confidence was generally stable. The sub-index on production forecast stood at 58.3 in April, above the levels in the same periods of the previous two years, despite a drop of 0.2 percentage points from March, Zhao said.
The price indexes ran high, as the purchasing price index of major raw materials and the ex-factory price index were 66.9 percent and 57.3 percent, respectively, both 2.5 percentage points lower than the previous month.
Some surveyed enterprises reported difficulties such as chip shortage, poor international logistics, container shortage and rising freight rates. The delivery time index of suppliers in the high-tech manufacturing industry has been lower than 44 for three consecutive months, and the procurement cycle of raw materials of enterprises has been extended, Zhao said.
Major PMI indexes came down in April after last month's rapid rebound formed a relatively high base, Wen said, adding that this calls for the need to further consolidate China's economic recovery as challenges persist.