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Dow Jones Newswires: China’s manufacturing, services activity return to expansion in June

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China’s official gauges of factory and services activity rebounded to expansion in June after showing activity contraction for three months in a row, as Beijing eased COVID-19 restrictions and moved to support economic growth.

The official manufacturing purchasing managers index rose to 50.2 in June, up from 49.6 in May, the National Bureau of Statistics said Thursday. However, the reading was lower than the 50.5 median forecast by economists polled by The Wall Street Journal.

China’s official manufacturing PMI had plunged below 50 in March and stayed below that level for three straight months. A reading below the 50 level suggests activity contraction while one above that level indicates activity expansion.

The subindex of factory production rebounded to 52.8 in June, up from 49.7 in May, the statistics bureau said. The subindex measuring total new orders rose to 50.4, compared with 48.2 in May. The subindex tracking export orders jumped to 49.5 in June, compared with 46.2 in May.

Despite the recovery in June, 49.3% of manufacturers surveyed by the state statistics bureau said they didn’t get enough orders from clients and weakening demand was the biggest problem they currently faced, according to Zhao Qinghe, a senior statistician with the statistics bureau. He also said falling factory-gate prices squeezed companies’ profit margins and increased operating pressure.

Meanwhile, China’s official nonmanufacturing PMI rose to 54.7 in June, compared with 47.8 in May, the statistics bureau said. The gauge had also remained in contractionary territory for three straight months starting March before rebounding to expansion this month.

The subindex measuring service activity rose to 54.3 in June, compared with 47.1 in May, while the subindex tracking construction activity rose to 56.6, from 52.2 in May.

Sectors including road transportation, accommodation, catering, sports and entertainment, which were hit hard by recent COVID-19 outbreaks, rebounded to expansionary territory this month, Zhao said.

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