BEIJING – Growth in China’s manufacturing and service sectors slowed in February due to interruption caused by the Lunar New Year holidays and measures to combat pollution, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) reported Wednesday.
China’s Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) reached 50.3 points in February, compared to 51.3 the previous month, which is the biggest drop in the last 19 months.
A value above 50 points in the PMI indicator indicates an expansion of activity and a value below points to a contraction.
The PMI is released monthly from surveys of about 3,000 different sized companies.
The NBS said that the fluctuation was a normal phenomenon during the Chinese New Year, the country’s main holiday period during which many businesses close and industrial activity is paralyzed.
The slowdown was also influenced by the Chinese authorities’ stringent measures to reduce pollution, including the closure of factories, which have allowed Beijing, one of the world’s most polluted cities, to have its first smog-free January since 2013.
Despite this, the consultancy Capital Economics said that these data are lower than expected and warned of the risk that growth of the world’s second largest economy will decelerate this year.
The Chinese service sector’s growth also lost momentum in February, when it reached 54.4 points, below the 55.3 registered in January, according to official data released on Wednesday.
“The breakdown shows that this reflects both slower service sector growth and weaker construction activity,” said Julian Evans-Pritchard, senior China economist at Capital Economics.