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China manufacturing index falls to historic low over COVID-19 (Ld)

Beijing, Feb 29 (IANS) Hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak, China’s manufacturing industry registered its worst data in February since official record keeping began in 2005, with the benchmark indicator Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) plummeting 14.3 points, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said on Saturday.

South China Morning Post reported that China’s official manufacturing PMI dropped to 35.7 in February from 50.0 in January, below the 38.8 figure reported in November 2008 during the global financial crisis.

The non-manufacturing PMI — a gauge of sentiment in the services and construction sectors — also dropped to 29.6 from 54.1 in January, the lowest since November 2011.

Chinese manufacturing activity plunged to an all-time low in February, with the first official data published amid the coronavirus outbreak confirming fears over the impact on the Chinese economy.

Analysts had expected the February reading to come in at 45.0. A reading below 50 indicates a contraction in sector activity. The farther the figure is below 50, the greater the contraction in activity.

China’s official manufacturing PMI dropped to 38.8 in November 2008 at the start of the global financial crisis.

The NBS said that the automotive and specialised equipment industries were hit hard, but that the effect was “more severe” in the non-manufacturing area.

“There was a plunge in demand for consumer industries involving gatherings of people, such as transportation, accommodation, catering, tourism, and resident services,” the NBS said.

“Although the new coronavirus pneumonia epidemic has caused a larger impact on production and operations of Chinese enterprises a currently the epidemic has come under initial containment, and the negative impact on production is gradually weakening.”

China on Saturday confirmed 427 new coronavirus cases and 47 more deaths throughout the day on Friday, representing a rebound of 31 per cent in new infections compared to the previous day, while deaths on Friday exceeded 7 per cent from a day earlier.

The number of deaths so far in China stands at 2,835 and the number of confirmed cases at 79,251, the latest National Health Commission announced on Saturday.

–IANS

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