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China Manufacturing Activity Softens

The purchasing managers index for manufacturing for May fell nearly three percent from April.

SHANGHAI — China’s purchasing managers index for manufacturing fell to 50.4 percent in May, a nearly three percent drop from April’s 13-month high of 53.3 percent, indicating a further slowdown of the world’s second largest economy.

The index for new export orders last month was 49.8 percent, a 4.7 percent decline from April’s 54.5 percent, according to data released Friday by the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing.

The HSBC China manufacturing PMI, which monitors smaller private sector companies, fell to 48.7 percent last month compared to 49.3 percent in April. It was the seventh month in a row the figure fell below the 50-level benchmark signaling expansion.

“Manufacturing activities softened again in May, reflecting the deteriorating export situation,” HSBC chief economist Hongbin Qu said in the bank’s report. “This calls for more aggressive policy easing, as inflation continues to slow. Beijing policy makers have been and will step up easing efforts to stabilize growth, as indicated by a slew of measures to boost liquidity, pubic housing and infrastructure investment and consumption. As long as easing measures filter though, China will secure a soft landing in the coming quarters.” 

In the first quarter of 2012, the Chinese economy grew by 8.1 percent, which was the lowest level in almost three years. The growth rate was down from 8.9 percent from the previous quarter.