China manufacturing weakens further as lockdowns continue

BEIJING (AP) — China’s manufacturing activity fell to a six-month low in April as lockdowns continued in Shanghai and other manufacturing hubs in an attempt to stem COVID-19 outbreaks, according to a survey released Saturday.

The monthly purchasing managers’ index, released by China’s National Bureau of Statistics, fell to 47.4 in April, down from 49.5 in March on a 100-point scale. Numbers below 50 show activity contracting.

The domestic COVID-19 outbreaks have impacted China’s factory activities and market demand, said the bureau’s statistician Zhao Qinghe.

Some enterprises have reduced or stopped production, with disruptions in logistics as well as the supply or raw materials and components.

Shanghai, China’s most populous city, spent weeks in April under lockdown. The capital, Beijing, began mass testing millions of residents this week.

In the northeast, authorities in Changchun and Jilin also spent most of April in lockdown, forcing automakers and other factories to shut down. Other smaller Chinese cities have also faced citywide or district lockdowns.

According to the statistics bureau, non-manufacturing business activity also fell 6.5 percentage points to 41.9.

Service industry activity fell to 40, down from 46.7 the previous month, as activity in sectors such as air transport, accommodation and catering took a hit during the outbreaks, the bureau said.

However, the construction industry continued to expand, especially the civil engineering construction sector. It is expected that progress in the construction industry will play a role in supporting economic recovery, according to Zhao.

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