China manufacturing weakens for third month in February

BEIJING — China’s manufacturing recovery weakened for a third month in February as exports and new orders declined, according to two surveys released today.

A monthly purchasing managers’ index issued by a prominent business magazine, Caixin, declined to 50.9 from January’s 51.5 on a 100-point scale on which numbers above 50 show activity accelerating.

A separate PMI issued by the Chinese statistics agency and an official industry group, the China Federation of Logistics & Purchasing, retreated to 50.6 from 51.3.

Manufacturers received a boost from China’s relatively early reopening after the coronavirus hit. But sales have been hurt by unease among Chinese consumers about the economic outlook and renewed disease outbreaks abroad that have prompted governments to reimpose business and travel curbs.

The latest results indicated the economy failed to receive a boost from Beijing’s appeal for the public to avoid traveling over the Lunar New Year holiday. Some forecasters expected manufacturing to benefit if employees stayed on the job instead of taking the usual break of up to two weeks.

Despite that, “production recovery momentum is good,” said economist Zhang Liqun in a statement issued by the logistics Federation.

The Federation said a sub-index of new orders declined to 51.5 from January’s 52.3.

A sub-index of new export orders fell to 48.8 from 50.2, the Federation said. It said the index of export orders for small enterprises stood at 35.1.