Chinese factory activity slowed in July, official data showed Tuesday, missing forecasts as extreme weather and a trade war with the US weighed on manufacturing.
The Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), a key gauge of factory conditions, came in at 51.2 for the month, down from 51.5 in June, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said.
The number was below the 51.3 reading tipped in a Bloomberg News survey of economists.
Although the numbers indicate a slowdown, they held comfortably above the 50-point mark that separates expansion from contraction.
The PMI “fluctuated” due to “the recent frequent heavy rains, typhoons and high temperatures”, NBS analyst Zhao Qinghe said in a statement, adding that adverse weather conditions had caused some industrial and mining production to stop.
“The mounting international trade friction” and “some industries entering the traditional slack season” also played a role, Zhao said.
The trade dispute has caused a decrease in export orders and raw material imports for some manufacturers, Zhao added.
“The data clearly show a slowdown in economic momentum,” Raymond Yeung, chief greater China economist for Australia & New Zealand Banking Group in Hong Kong told Bloomberg.
“The impact of the first tranche of US tariffs that came into effect last month is being largely offset by a weaker renminbi,” Julian Evans-Pritchard of Capital Economics said in a research note.
“China’s economy is on track to slow further this quarter and next, triggering additional policy easing.”
Hoping to reverse that trend, Beijing last week signalled it would shift to a looser fiscal policy by unveiling a series of fiscal support including tax reduction and issuance of local government special bonds for infrastructure.