China's manufacturing sector continued to expand in September, if barely, the latest survey from HSBC revealed on Tuesday with a PMI reading of 50.2.
That was unchanged from the August reading, although it was down from the flash estimate of 50.5 earlier this month.
A reading above 50 means expansion in a sector, while a score below signals contraction.
"Output and new orders were both revised down. Meanwhile, the employment and price sub-indices were revised up, although both remain at relatively low levels. The new export orders sub-index rose to its highest reading since March 2010," said Hongbin Qu, Chief Economist, China & Co-Head of Asian Economic Research at HSBC.
Among the individual components of the survey, output growth eased further from July's 16-month high, while new export business expanded at fastest rate since March 2010. Staffing levels are cut for eleventh consecutive month
Production increased at the slowest pace in the current four-month sequence of expansion, while job shedding across the sector extended into an eleventh successive month. Meanwhile, a slightly stronger expansion of total new business, largely driven by the strongest rise in new export work for four-and-a-half years, led to the quickest accumulation of backlogged work in 2014 so far.
Chinese manufacturers saw a further expansion of output in September, though the rate of increase eased further from July's 16-month high and was the slowest in four months of expansion. Data suggested that inflows of new work were largely driven by stronger demand from abroad, with new export orders rising at the fastest pace since March 2010.
Despite higher volumes of new work, companies continued to cut their staffing levels in September at a modest pace. Lower workforce numbers were generally attributed to a combination of down-sizing policies and the non-replacement of voluntary leavers.
Purchasing activity in China's manufacturing sector rose for the fifth month in a row during September, albeit at the slowest rate since June. Manufacturers in China saw a second successive monthly fall in average cost burdens in September.
The rate at which input prices fell was the quickest since April. Output prices also declined in September, with a number of companies discounting their selling prices in an attempt to boost new business.
"Overall, the data in September suggest that manufacturing activity continues to expand at a slow pace. We think risks to growth are still on the downside and warrant more accommodative monetary as well as fiscal policies," Hongbin said.
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