China’s manufacturing sector weakens due to COVID-19 outbreak

BEIJING (AP) — China’s manufacturing sector contracted for the third straight month in December, the biggest drop since early 2020, as the country battled a nationwide surge of COVID-19 after abruptly easing anti-epidemic measures. .

The monthly purchasing managers’ index fell to 47.0 from 48.0 in November, according to data released by the National Bureau of Statistics on Saturday. A number below 50 indicates a contraction in activity.

The contraction was the largest since February 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic was just beginning.

With China abruptly easing restrictions on COVID-19 earlier this month, it came after years of trying to stamp out the virus. The country of 1.4 billion people is now facing a nationwide outbreak and authorities have stopped releasing daily statistics on COVID-19 infections.

Several other sub-indices, including large enterprises, production and demand in the manufacturing market, also fell compared with November.

“Some interviewed companies reported that due to the impact of the epidemic, logistics and transportation manpower is insufficient, and the delivery time has been extended,” said Zhao Qinghe, a senior economist at the Statistics Bureau, in an analysis of the data published in December.

Sectors including construction expanded in December, as did sub-indices measuring air transport, telecommunications and currency and financial services, according to the bureau.

China’s non-manufacturing PMI also fell to 41.6 in December from 46.7 in November.

China may miss its economic growth target of 5.5% this year, with forecasters slashing its annual growth forecast to 3%, which would be the second-lowest pace since at least the 1980s.

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