China manufacturing gauge rises in December, beating expectations

BEIJING — An official gauge of China’s manufacturing beat market expectations, as activity continued to expand at a faster clip in December amid improved market demand and falling raw material prices.

The official manufacturing purchasing managers’ index rose to 50.3 in December from November’s 50.1, China’s National Bureau of Statistics said Friday.

The result beat the 50.0 median forecast made by economists polled by The Wall Street Journal and remained above the 50 mark, which separates activity expansion from contraction, for the second month in a row.

The statistics bureau said government measures introduced to stabilize prices and help businesses started to kick in this month when some commodity prices fell back, relieving cost pressure for manufacturers.

The subindex measuring total new orders increased to 49.7, from 49.4 in November, while the subindex of production dropped to 51.4 in December, compared with 52 in November. The subindex measuring new export orders declined to 48.1, compared with November’s 48.5.

Also released Friday was the official nonmanufacturing PMI, which includes service and construction activity in China. The nonmanufacturing PMI rose to 52.7, compared with 52.3 in November.

The subindex measuring service activity rose to 52 this month from 51.1 in November, as the airline, catering and entertainment sectors recovered from coronavirus shocks in November, the statistics bureau said.

The subindex measuring construction activity declined to 56.3, compared with November’s 59.1, as construction was weighed by cold weather and holiday factors.

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