SHANGHAI — The latest round of economic data to come out of China in 2016 has been mixed, with official numbers illustrating a further contraction in manufacturing.
Meanwhile, Asian markets are losing ground in their first day of trade of 2016 as investors digest the economic data and express concern over rising tensions in the Middle East. Trade on Shanghai’s stock market plunged 7 percent on Monday and trade was halted in the early afternoon. Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 is shedding 3 percent while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng is falling 2.5 percent.
The Caixin/Markit China PMI, a private survey focusing on more small and medium-sized firms than the official survey, fell to 48.2 in December, down from November’s reading of 48.6. The data came out Monday.
This represents a tenth straight month of contraction, according to the Caixin survey, and a sharper decline in December than in previous months.
The government released its official December PMI, purchasing managers index, on Friday, with the official number coming in at 49.7. This represents a slight rise from the three-year low of 49.6 seen in November, but still represents a reduction in activity (an index of below 50 indicates contraction).
On the bright side, the official non-manufacturing PMI hit 54.4, its highest level since August 2014 and further indication of the strengthening of China’s services sector.
China’s policy makers have increasingly focused on promoting the services sector and boosting domestic consumption in the face of weakening manufacturing and export sectors, once the lifeblood of the world’s second-largest economy.
Many analysts are expecting China’s GDP growth to slow to 7 percent in full-year 2015, down from 7.3 percent in 2014. Though some feel that a growth estimate at 7 percent may be optimistic, with growth continuing to slow further in 2016.
“We are reviewing our 7 percent forecast for fourth-quarter 2015 GDP growth for downward revision,” ING analysts wrote in a note on Monday ahead of the Caixin PMI announcement.
“Absent vibrant external demand, we think it’s a consensus view that China’s GDP growth is poised to slow further to ‘about’ 6.5 percent in 2016.”