China’s manufacturing activity grows at a slower pace in January

BEIJING — Manufacturing activity in the world’s second-largest economy grew at a slower pace in January compared to the previous month, according to an official government measure, as the country’s strict “zero tolerance” COVID-19 measures have dampened economic activity.

The Purchasing Managers’ Index, tracked by China’s National Bureau of Statistics, slipped to 50.1 from 50.3 in December, continuing a third month of weak growth. A separate PMI from business magazine Caixin showed on Sunday that manufacturing activity fell further, from 50.9 in December to 49.1 in January.

The PMI is tracked on a 100-point scale in which numbers above 50 show expanding activity and below that contraction.

New orders, which are measured in a sub-index, also fell, falling to 49.3, according to the official measure. New export order activity also continued to contract, although at a slightly slower pace in January.

Chinese exports have been a consistent bright spot throughout the pandemic.

China has seen several outbreaks of COVID-19 over the past month and has implemented strict lockdown measures starting in December and continuing into the new year, banning people from leaving their homes. The closures have affected up to 20 million people.

Zhao Qinghe, senior statistician at NBS, said in a statement on Sunday that China faces multiple challenges, including a complicated economic environment and COVID-19 outbreaks across the country.

Growth in the non-manufacturing PMI also declined, from 52.7 in December to 51.1 in January, with the construction and services sectors both recording weaker growth.

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Associated Press researcher Henry Hou contributed to this report.

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