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China manufacturing hits 7-month low: HSBC

BEIJING -- Chinese manufacturing activity hit a seven-month low in June, data from HSBC showed Thursday, putting pressure on Beijing to do more to boost the world's second-largest economy.

The banking giant said preliminary figures from its closely watched purchasing managers' index (PMI), which gauges the manufacturing sector, fell to 48.1 in June from 48.4 in May on shrinking exports and weak domestic demand.

The June figure also marked the eighth consecutive month that manufacturing has contracted. A PMI reading above 50 indicates expansion, while a reading below 50 points to contraction.

Analysts said the results suggest China will move again to boost its slowing economy, after cutting interest rates earlier this month and encouraging more government investment.

“China's manufacturing sector continued to slow in June,” HSBC's co-head of Asian economic research, Qu Hongbin, said in the statement.

“With external headwinds remaining strong, exports are likely to decelerate in the coming months.”

New export orders, a component of PMI, recorded their sharpest decline since March 2009, HSBC said, but did not give a figure. The bank will release the final data for June next month.

China's commerce minister said earlier this month that the country faces a “severe” trade situation this year, as weak demand in key exports markets such as the United States and Europe hit the economy.

In May, exports were better than expected, rising 15.3 percent year-on-year to US$181.1 billion, but analysts say such growth may be short-lived.

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A worker at the Ningbo Port stands beside a container ship waiting to be loaded in Ningbo, Thursday, June 21. China's manufacturing activity hit a seven-month low in June as shrinking exports and weak domestic demand shook the world's second largest economy, British bank HSBC said. (AFP)

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