China: Manufacturing and non-manufacturing PMIs rise in March
The manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) published by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) and the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing (CFLP) rose from 50.6% in February to 51.9% in March, above the 51.0% expected by market analysts. As a result, the index remained above the 50.0% threshold that separates expansion from contraction in the manufacturing sector. The reading was driven by faster growth in output and new orders, as Chinese factories ramped up operations following a lull during the Lunar New Year celebrations in February. The PMI rose for large, medium and small firms, although large firms continued to report the healthiest operating conditions.
Looking at the non-manufacturing sector, the PMI stood at 56.3%, up from 51.4% in February, spurred by stronger activity in both the construction and services sectors.
March’s readings suggest the economy strengthened at the end of Q1, after a spike in Covid-19 cases and some localized restrictions took the edge of momentum early in the quarter. Regarding March’s reading, Ho Woei Chen, economist at United Overseas Bank, commented:
“The [PMI] for both manufacturing and non-manufacturing rebounded strongly towards their recent peaks recorded in November 2020. The improvement was supported by seasonal factors and the broadening out of China’s economic recovery. Specifically, the robust reading in the non-manufacturing PMI should bode well for a stronger consumption recovery.”