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China's April manufacturing gauge stays at 50.1: government
[BEIJING] China's manufacturing activity expanded in April for the second straight month but failed to accelerate, the government said Friday, as the world's second-largest economy struggles to pick up steam.
The official Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) released by the National Bureau of Statistics came in at 50.1 last month, the same result as in March when the gauge expanded for the first time this year.
The index, which tracks activity in factories and workshops, is seen as a key barometer of the country's economic health. A figure above 50 signals growth, while anything below indicates contraction.
January's reading of 49.8 was the first shrinkage in the measure in more than two years and added to worries about China's economic outlook.
Expansion in China's economy, a key driver of global growth, slowed to 7.0 per cent in the first quarter of 2015 from 7.3 per cent in the final three months of last year, marking the worst result in six years since the height of the global financial crisis.
The economy is also slowing on a longer-term basis. Gross domestic product (GDP) grew 7.4 per cent in 2014, the worst full-year result since 1990, the year after the Tiananmen protests that saw China hit by international sanctions.
Chinese authorities have endorsed slower GDP expansion as they seek to rejig the country's economic model away from reliance on heavy investment and make consumer spending the main growth engine.
But they are sensitive to the slowdown getting out of hand and have attempted to put a floor under it via monetary stimulus aimed at boosting the economy.
Economists broadly expect more such measures this year.
Friday's official PMI announcement comes after banking giant HSBC's own survey of manufacturing activity showed a decline to a 12-month low in April, to 49.2.