China's factory activity steady in April

Chinese factory workers Image copyright AFP
Image caption Activity in Chinese factories remained steady in April

Factory activity in the world's second largest economy, China, held steady in April, coming in slightly above market expectations.

The official manufacturing purchasing managers' index (PMI) was at 50.1 in April, the same level as in March and above expectations of a reading of 50.

It was above the crucial 50 mark again, which separates growth from contraction in the industry.

Manufacturing activity had contracted in the first two months of the year.

China's growth slowed to the weakest in 24 years last year.

Growth in the Asian giant is expected to continue to ease with policymakers setting a target of about 7% for this year - which would mark its weakest expansion in a quarter of a century.

China's manufacturing sector, which has been heralded as the factory of the world, has struggled to gain momentum with overcapacity in production as new orders shrink.

In the services sector, the PMI came in at 53.4 for April, down from 53.7 in March - showing the effect of the cooling economy.

The country's central bank has made a series of unexpected moves to stimulate the economy and boost activity since last year November.

The latest move happened last month, when it cut its bank reserve requirement ratio by one percentage point to allow banks to lend out more money.

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