China's Feb HSBC flash PMI retreats from 2-year high
The HSBC flash purchasing managers' index (PMI) for February slipped to 50.4, the lowest in four months and down from January's final reading of 52.3, which had been the best showing since January 2011.
The flash PMI is the earliest indicator of China's economic health in any month and should not alter expectations that the world's No. 2 economy is enjoying a gentle recovery, a welcome development for the country's new leaders who take office in March.
"The underlying strength of the Chinese growth recovery remains intact, as indicated by still expanding employment and the recent pick-up of credit growth," said Qu Hongbin, an economist at HSBC.
In line with recent trends, the flash PMI showed demand for Chinese exports teetered in February. The new export orders sub-index inched down to 49.8, a hair's breadth from the 50-point mark separating expanding activity from contraction on a monthly basis.
China's export sector has been an Achilles' heel for its economy in the past two years as faltering global economic growth saw net exports drag on growth.
Although export growth surged to 21-month highs in January in a sign that business is picking up, most economists believe exporters face continued difficulty as U.S. and European demand continues to languish.
Still, the flash PMI did not suggest China's factories were re-entering a slowdown. While most PMI sub-indices
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