A key Chinese industrial data point just posted a nasty miss

Photo: Mandy Cheng/AFP/Getty Images

Activity in Chinese factories unexpectedly slowed in April, recording the weakest rate of growth in seven months.

The Caixin Manufacturing PMI fell to 50.3, below the forecast of 51.0 and significantly below last month’s 51.2 reading.

Like other manufacturing indexes, the Caixin PMI ranges from a score of 0 to 100, with 50 deemed neutral. Anything above 50 indicates that activity levels improved, while a reading below 50 suggests activity levels declined.

The numbers show that China’s manufacturing sector still grew in April – but only just.

The latest Caixin reading, which is a private survey of manufacturers, followed official Chinese PMI figures released on the weekend that also missed expectations.

This chart from investing.com shows the fall in the latest reading after a surprisingly strong start to the year:

Among the inputs for the index, total output and new purchasing orders both grew at the slowest rate since last September. With iron ore and steel prices both falling in April, new export orders recorded the slowest rate of growth in 2017 so far.

In addition to slower manufacturing activity, authorities are also focused on controlling credit risk in the economy. That’s led to stricter monetary policy, aimed at reducing liquidity for non-government backed banks to engage in speculative lending activities.

The Caixin PMI data reinforces the view that multiple challenges are still evident for the Chinese economy as it transitions to a more stable rate of growth.

The Shanghai Composite Index rose at the open but is now down 0.34% during the lunch break.

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