China's manufacturing sector is picking up steam

Reuters

The moderate decline in headline PMI was mainly attributable to the lower inventory, while production growth remained solid despite the "unfavorable working day effect", as there were two fewer working days in December 2017 compared with a year ago, said a CICC research report.

China's manufacturing sector expanded at a slower pace in December, official data showed Sunday. The distance away from 50 indicates how quickly activity levels are expanding or contracting. Analysts have widely expected China will report slightly cooler economic growth in the fourth quarter after a forecast-beating 6.9 percent expansion in the first nine months of the year, supported by the construction boom and robust exports.

"Overall, 2017's economic performance continues to be steady and good, establishing a generally good foundation for 2018", the federation said.

However, a slowdown has started to take hold in the last few months due to a wide-ranging combination of government measures, from a crackdown on smog in heavily industrialised northern provinces to continued curbs on the housing market which are weighing on property investment.

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The service sector, which accounted for more than half of the countrys gross domestic product (GDP), continued steady growth, with the sectors business activity index standing at 53.4 in December, well above the boom-bust line of 50, although declining 0.2 percentage points month on month.

"Business expectations about output in the year ahead strengthened to a four-month high while firms increased labor capacity and purchasing activity further during December", Aw added.

"Notably, the rate of expansion quickened to a three-month high..." Sources have told Reuters that Chinese leaders are likely to stick with a growth target of around 6.5 percent for 2018, the same as previous year, even as they ratchet up efforts to prevent a destabilizing build-up of debt.

The Caixin Purchasing Managers' Index for the factory sector rose to 51.5 in December from 50.8 in November.

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