A monthly index shows that Chinese manufacturing started the year off at a slower pace as factory activity eased on softer demand, especially for exports. The official purchasing managers’ index for January, released on Wednesday, slipped to 51.3, down from December’s 51.6 and the weakest reading in eight months.
The index is based on a 100-point scale where the 50 mark separates expansion from contraction. Output and new orders continued to grow but at a slower pace than the previous month. The PMI is a widely watched gauge for manufacturing in the world’s second-largest economy.
China posted 6.9 percent economic growth last year, beating the government’s official target and analyst forecasts. Economists expect activity to slow this year as the government strives to cool the property market.