China manufacturing growth weakens in January

BEIJING — China’s manufacturing growth weakened in January, according to two surveys, suggesting its rebound from the coronavirus pandemic is leveling off.

A purchasing managers’ index released today by business magazine Caixin declined to 51.5 from December’s 53 on a 100-point scale on which numbers above 50 show activity expanding. A separate index by the national statistics agency and an official industry group, the China Federation of Logistics & Purchasing, retreated to 51.3 from the previous month’s 51.9.

“The survey data suggest that China’s rebound from the COVID-19 downturn is leveling off,” said Julian Evans-Pritchard, of Capital Economics in a report.

Chinese manufacturing benefited from the country’s relatively early reopening from a shutdown to fight the virus and from demand for masks and other exports.

This month’s industrial activity might get a lift from the government’s appeal to the public to avoid travel during the Lunar New Year holiday, forecasters say.

That is expected to dent tourism spending, but economists say the overall impact should be limited if factories, shops and farms keep operating through the holiday instead of shutting down for up to two weeks as they usually do.