Caixin PMI for June comes in at three-month high, beating forecast

Key Points
  • The Caixin China manufacturing PMI for June came in at 50.4, marking a three-month high.
  • It was up from 49.6 in May and beat a Reuters poll forecast for 49.5.

The Caixin China manufacturing purchasing manufacturers' index (PMI) for June beat expectations, offering another signal that the world's second-largest economy continues to defy expectations for a slowdown.

The private survey came in at 50.4, marking a three-month high. It was up from May's 49.6, which was an 11-month low, and beat a Reuters poll forecast for 49.5.

Levels above 50 signal an expansion, while levels below 50 indicate contraction.

The Caixin PMI tends to focus on smaller, private companies, while the official data tends to focus on larger, often state-owned companies.

The rise was spurred by stronger increases in production and new orders, prompting companies to increase purchasing activity by a tad, even as muted client demand pushed manufacturers to cut inventories and reduce their workforce numbers.

The Australian dollar wobbled, slipping as low as $0.7670 after the release, compared with as high as $0.7695 before the release. The Aussie dollar was fetching $0.7683 at 10:47 a.m. HK/SIN.

China is a key destination for Australia's exports of commodities.

The June Caixin PMI wasn't all positive, with the release saying the optimism toward the business outlook touched its lowest level so far this year.

Zhengsheng Zhong, director of macroeconomic analysis at CEBM Group, said in the Caixin PMI release was downbeat on the data.

"Based on the inventory trends and confidence around future output, the June reading was more like a temporary rebound, with an economic downtrend likely to be confirmed later," Zhong said.

But the improved data offered confirmation of the official PMI figures, released on Friday, which showed that manufacturing activity accelerated more than expected in June.

The official manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index rose to 51.7 in June, accelerating from May's 51.2 and beating a Reuters poll forecast for 51.0.

In the services sector, the official services PMI for June rose to 54.9 from May's 54.5.

While the manufacturing PMI data tends to be more closely watched, China's pivot toward domestic consumption and away from investment-led growth means the services sector accounts for a bigger slice of the mainland economy. The services sector includes consumer industries such as real estate, retail and leisure.

In the first quarter, China's GDP grew 6.9 percent on-year, slightly faster than the 6.8 percent forecast in a Reuters poll and the fastest pace since the third quarter of 2015.

The government is targeting growth of around 6.5 percent for this year, compared with last year's target of 6.5-7 percent, Reuters reported, noting that 2016's growth was at 6.7 percent, the weakest for 26 years.

Concerns over China's economy have grown as policy makers' stimulus efforts have also spurred a leverage buildup, but the latest PMI data may indicate a somewhat healthier picture.

In a note on Monday, Nomura estimated that China's outstanding non-financial sector debt hit 191.3 trillion yuan ($27.96 trillion), or 251 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in the first quarter, up from 158.3 trillion yuan, or 231 percent of GDP, at the end of 2015.

Last month, Moody's Investors Service expressed concern that China's effort to support economic growth would spur higher debt levels, and the ratings service downgraded the mainland's sovereign credit rating to A1 from Aa3, changing its outlook to stable from negative.