- POSTED: 01 Jan 2014 13:16
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China's manufacturing growth slowed in December for the first time in six months, official figures showed on Wednesday.
BEIJING: China's manufacturing growth slowed in December for the first time in six months, official figures showed on Wednesday.
The purchasing managers' index (PMI) was at 51.0, down from November's 51.4, the National Bureau of Statistics said on its website. A reading above 50 signals expansion while a figure below indicates contraction.
It marked the 15th straight month of expansion, but it is the first time the figure has dipped from the previous month since June.
China's economy, an important driver of regional and global growth, expanded 7.8 percent from July to September, snapping two quarters of slowing, but analysts have warned that weaknesses remain in the world's second-largest economy.
The December PMI result indicates "that real activity could have slowed in the month due to continued liquidity tightness", ANZ bank economists Liu Li-Gang and Zhou Hao wrote in a report.
China was hit last month by a liquidity squeeze that sent interest rates soaring in a development widely seen as engineered by officials aiming to increase financial discipline over the country's banks. The financial system experienced a similar cash crunch in June.
Liu and Zhou also stressed that slides in the new orders and export orders components of the PMI in December indicate a weak demand environment.
A government report cited by state media last week suggested China's economy grew 7.6 percent in 2013, slightly above its official target for the year and just below the 7.7 expansion in gross domestic product in 2012 -- the worst growth rate for 13 years.
In March, China announced an official target of 7.5 percent growth for 2013. The government usually announces a conservative number that it regularly surpasses.
Liu and Zhou maintained their forecast that China's economic growth may slow to as low as 7.5 percent in the fourth quarter while expecting a figure of 7.6 percent for all of 2013.
British bank HSBC last month said China's manufacturing activity in December expanded at its slowest rate in three months, in its preliminary PMI index.
The bank's final PMI reading for December is scheduled to be released on Tuesday.