BEIJING (AP) — China’s manufacturing held steady in May, a survey showed Monday, adding to signs a post-pandemic rebound is leveling off.
A monthly purchasing managers’ index issued by an industry group and the national statistics agency stood at 51 on a 50-point scale on which numbers above 50 show activity increasing. That was little-changed from April’s 51.1.
Measures of production and imports rose while new orders and employment declined, according to the China Federation of Logistics & Purchasing and the National Bureau of Statistics.
That indicated “market demand is insufficient,” economist Zhang Liqun said in a statement released by the Federation.
Chinese manufacturers benefited from the relatively early reopening of the economy in 2020, while exporters got a boost from global demand for masks and other medical supplies. They have gained global market share while foreign competitors still face anti-disease restrictions on business.
China’s economic growth surged to 18.3% over a year earlier in the first three months of 2021 as consumer and factory activity revived. But forecasters warned the explosive rebound was ending because the gain compared with the previous quarter at the end of 2020 was just 0.6%.
Consumer spending is back above pre-pandemic levels but has recovered more slowly than manufacturing and exports.
“Now that the economy is already above its pre-virus trend, we think the pace of growth will wane this year,” said Julian Evans-Pritchard of Capital Economics in a report.