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Foreign Orders Lift China’s Manufacturing Again in March: Caixin

A rise in orders both at home and abroad have boosted factory activity and lifted business confidence to the highest in nearly a year, according to a Caixin survey on Monday

Chinese workers make tools on a production line at a factory in Huaian, Jiangsu province, May 26, 2019 (handout via Reuters).


Business confidence is rising in China, with manufacturing activity in March growing at the fastest pace in 13 months.

A rise in orders both at home and abroad have lifted business confidence to an 11-month high, a private survey showed on Monday.

The Caixin/S&P Global manufacturing PMI rose to 51.1 in March from 50.9 the previous month, above analysts’ forecasts of 51.0 and marking an expansion for the fifth consecutive month. The 50-point mark separates growth from contraction.


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The upbeat results followed recent better-than-expected export and retail sales data, suggesting a bright start to the year for the world’s second-biggest economy.

Citi last week raised its forecast for China’s 2024 growth to 5.0% from 4.6%, citing “recent positive data and policy delivery”.

Premier Li Qiang announced an ambitious 2024 economic growth target of around 5% at the annual meeting of China’s parliament in March.

But analysts say policymakers will need to roll out more stimulus to hit that target as they will not be able to count on the weak statistical base of 2022 which flattered 2023 growth data. Plus, a deep slump in the property sector remains a major drag on activity.

Expansion in manufacturers’ output and new orders accelerated last month, the PMI survey showed. External demand also picked up, pushing the gauge for new export orders to its highest level since February 2023.

Businesses’ confidence towards the year-ahead rose to its highest point since April 2023 on good news such as a reduction in input costs.

“A drop in raw material prices reduced production costs for manufacturers, providing leeway for them to lower prices amid fierce market competition,” Wang Zhe, Senior Economist at Caixin Insight Group said.


Firms cautious about hiring though

However, companies were cautious about adding employees, and the relevant sub-index has remained negative since August last year.

“The economy still faces headwinds with prevalent uncertainties and unfavorable factors,” Wang said.

“Downward economic pressures persist, employment remains subdued, prices remain low, and insufficient effective demand has not been fundamentally resolved, underscoring the need to further boost domestic and external demand.”


  • Reuters with additional editing by Jim Pollard



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Jim Pollard

Jim Pollard is an Australian journalist based in Thailand since 1999. He worked for News Ltd papers in Sydney, Perth, London and Melbourne before travelling through SE Asia in the late 90s. He was a senior editor at The Nation for 17+ years.


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