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China’s factory gauge hits 18-month low in Dec

A gauge measuring factory activity in Mainland China dipped to an 18-month low in December. However, the Chinese services sector continued its robust performance, another indicator shows.

The official manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) was down to 50.1 in December from 50.3 in the previous month, according to figures jointly released by the National Bureau of Statistics and the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing on Thursday. A reading above 50 signals expansion, while a reading below 50 represents contraction.

The December figure was the lowest reading since June 2013.

“This indicates that industrial growth is still in a downward trend, but the pace [of decline] is slowing,” said Zhang Liqun, an economist at the State Council’s Development Research Centre.

“The current economic situation is in the process of returning to stability,” Mr Zhang said in a statement cited by state-run news agency Xinhua.

Meanwhile, the statistics bureau also announced on Thursday that China’s services PMI rose to 54.1 in December, up from 53.9 in November.

Zhao Qinghe, a senior statistician at the bureau, said in a statement that the nation was moving to “a more services-led economy”.