Chinese manufacturing weakens as anti-virus controls tighten

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China, Shanghai; Business; Coronavirus
File Photo: A worker wearing a protective suit stands in front of an electronic display board in the lobby of the Shanghai Stock Exchange building (2020)

China’s manufacturing activity fell to a five-month low in March after most of Shanghai and two other industrial centres were shut down to fight coronavirus outbreaks, figures show.

The monthly purchasing managers’ index of the Chinese statistics agency and an industry group, the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing, fell to 49.5 from February’s 50.2 on a 100-point scale.

Numbers below 50 show activity contracting.

Sub-indicators of new orders, new export orders, employment, production and business expectations all declined, the report said.

Julian Evans-Pritchard of Capital Economics said: “Even if the outbreak is brought under control soon, it will still take a while for the economy to get back on track.”

Most businesses in Shanghai, China’s most populous city, have been ordered to close while millions of people are tested for the virus.

Access to Changchun and Jilin in the north-east has been suspended, forcing car makers and other factories to shut down.

Restrictions also have been imposed on some smaller cities.

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