China factory activity held steady in May, index shows

Reuters

Markit's Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) for manufacturing, which accounts for about a fifth of the German economy, jumped to 59.5 from 58.2 in April. Any figure above 50 represents expansion. It said that the worldwide demand for Indian-manufactured goods deteriorated in May, as signalled by a decline in new export orders.

"The euro zone upturn is developing deeper roots as factories enjoy a spring growth spurt", said Chris Williamson, chief business economist at IHS Markit.

May has highlighted the record number of people in work in her campaign, and Thursday's figures showed that manufacturers planned to hire staff at the fastest pace in almost three years. Apart from that, the report showed that manufacturers' optimism over the economy hit a 20-month high last month.

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The official report also suggested that China's factory recovery was spreading to the smaller and nimbler private sector as price pressures on them abate.

Builders hired more workers and ordered more supplies to deal with a faster inflow of new projects last month, Markit said.

The UK construction sector expanded at the fastest pace in 17 months in May as low interest rate and strong labor markets underpinned residential building activity.

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Output, new orders and purchasing activity all fell in May, which pointed a downturn in client demand.

On the price front, Aw said greater costs prompted firms to raise charges further to protect their margins.

An index measuring output, which feeds into a composite PMI due next week, also climbed further above the 50 mark that separates growth from contraction. "Nonetheless, underlying trends were more positive as the rate of deterioration eased for the second successive month", said IHS Markit economist Alex Gill. Data indicated that customer demand was relatively subdued both at home and overseas, with new export sales rising at a similarly marginal pace.

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Nearly all economists expect inflation pressures on consumers to intensify later this year, but the silver lining of a weak currency - more competitive exports - is proving elusive.

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