World Economy

A major Chinese manufacturing indicator shows better growth than expected

Key Points
  • The Caixin/IHS Markit China manufacturing PMI April reading was released on Wednesday.
  • The metric focuses on smaller businesses in China compared to the official manufacturing PMI reading, which was released on Monday.

A survey focused on small and mid-size manufacturing in China was released on Wednesday, showing better than expected growth.

The private Caixin/Markit PMI, which focuses on small and mid-size businesses in China, came in at 51.1 for April, versus an expected 50.9. In March, it was 51.

A reading above 50 indicates expansion, while a reading below that signals contraction.

This followed the release of official April manufacturing PMI data on Monday, which showed that expansion in China's manufacturing sector slowed slightly. The Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) fell to 51.4 in April, from 51.5 in March.

The softer reading, especially slower export orders, adds to concerns about an expected loss of momentum in the world's second-largest economy, as policymakers navigate debt risks and a heated trade row with the U.S.

Despite the better than expected data, Zhengsheng Zhong, director of macroeconomic analysis at CEBM Group, said the growth of new business moderated for the second straight month, reflecting weakening demand across the manufacturing sector.

"Manufacturers are facing a sharply deteriorating foreign demand environment as new export orders declined for the first time in 17 months in April," he said in a note.

"Overall, operating conditions across China's manufacturing sector continued to improve in April. But uncertainty in exports has increased significantly, and the dependence of the Chinese economy on domestic demand is rising," Zhong concluded.

— Reuters contributed reporting to this article.