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Markit’s must-read China PMI finds new home

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Kazuhiro Nogi | AFP | Getty Images

Markit has found two new sponsors for its Asia PMI data after HSBC's surprise decision to step aside, with Caixin's name set to grace the China figures, while the Nikkei brand will be used for the other Asian offerings.

The closely watched PMI -- or purchasing managers index -- data briefly went without a sponsor after HSBC's five-year contract came to an end and wasn't renewed.

While HSBC had sponsored the data for countries across Asia, under the fresh sponsorship deals China was split off from the rest of the region. Chinese media group Caixin, which focuses on business news, will brand the China data, saying it was part of a strategy to increase its financial information offerings.

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"The agreement may also be extended to include further cooperation with Markit on financial data and other services," Caixin said in a press release Tuesday.

Markit's China PMI data tends to focus on smaller and medium-sized companies, filling a niche that isn't covered by the official data.

Ten other Asia PMI surveys will now be branded by Nikkei, a Japan-based media group. That includes the pre-existing Indonesia, Hong Kong and India data as well as two newly created ones for Malaysia and Singapore.

"Having a leading Chinese company as sponsor will help highlight the importance of this economic data both within and outside China," while Nikkei taking on the Asia ex-China data "complements their strategy in the region," Laura Davis, marketing director for Asia-Pacific at Markit, told CNBC via email.

Nikkei has been expanding in Southeast Asia. It doubled the number of reporters located in Asia ex-Japan, according to its website. Last year, it created an Asian editorial headquarters in Bangkok and launched a Singapore unit to spread its brand regionally.

"[Branding the Asia ex-China data] is the best coverage for us," Ken Chiba, deputy general manager of Nikkei's public relations office, told CNBC in a phone interview. He said there was "no specific reason" for not acquiring the China PMI data as well.

For its part, HSBC declined to comment on why it stepped aside from the sponsorship when its five-year contract ended. But in early June, the bank announced a massive restructuring, including plans to cut costs by as much as $5 billion within two years and lay off as many as 25,000 staff.


—By CNBC.Com's Leslie Shaffer; Follow her on Twitter @LeslieShaffer1