Shanghai, China, Jan 31 (EFE).- China’s manufacturing activity rebounded in January after three consecutive months of contraction, boosted by the speed of recovery after the end of the country’s stringent “zero Covid” policy and the initial wave of infections following the lifting of restrictions.
The purchasing manager’s index (PMI), an indicator of the manufacturing sector, rebounded strongly from 47 points in December – its lowest figure in 2022 – to 50.1 this month, according to official data released by the National Bureau of Statistics on Tuesday.
A figure above 50 points represents growth in activity compared to the previous month and one below indicates contraction.
The manufacturing PMI declined in eight of the 12 months of 2022, mainly due to the disruptions caused by the “zero Covid” policy, which led to strict lockdowns and tough restrictions in several parts of the country, especially after the appearance of the highly contagious omicron variant.
Although January’s figure represents a slight recovery, the rebound in manufacturing has come earlier than expected and beats analysts’ forecasts, who had expected the manufacturing PMI to be around 49.8 this month.
The main driving force behind this recovery were large companies, since small and medium-sized companies continued in the contraction zone, although with less significant falls.
“The official PMIs add to evidence of a rapid rebound in economic activity this month as disruption from the reopening wave faded,” UK-based research firm Capital Economics said in a bulletin.
“More shoppers returned to the street boosting services activity while easing labor shortages supported industry,” it added.
The NBS also released the PMI for the non-manufacturing sector, which measures activity in sectors such as construction and services.
The non-manufacturing PMI shot up from 41.6 to 54.4 points, its best showing since June last year.
The services sector drove the rebound, since the indicator that measures its evolution went from 39.4 points in December – the second-lowest figure ever – to 54 in January.
Although Capital Economics recalls that some of the key economic statistics will not be published in February – China usually combines certain data for the first two months due to the Lunar New Year festivities -, it forecasts that “all the signs are that activity will see a rapid recovery at the start of 2023.” EFE