China factory activity held steady in May, index shows

"Softer growth in output reflected a relatively muted increase in total new orders during May", Caixin and IHS Markit said in a joint press release.

But it was positive on the outlook for manufacturing, citing "solid" new orders, optimism at a 20-month high and the biggest jump in backlogs of work in six years. A number of panellists blamed longer lead times on stock shortages at vendors.

Meanwhile, annual economic growth in India slowed in the quarter ended March, coming in at 6.1 per cent.

This latest reading pointed to a further growth slowdown from the 22-month high recorded in January of 55.

The May result was slightly lower than a preliminary reading of 54.0 but remained comfortably above the 50-point line.

Manufacturing activity in the United Kingdom fell less than expected last month, a private survey revealed on Thursday.

Residential building activity rose at the fastest pace since December 2015, on the back of new development projects and resilient underlying demand conditions.

The anecdotal evidence of reduced demand was reinforced by survey data with the seasonally adjusted new orders indec contracting below the 50-level threshold.

Sterling's slump since the Brexit vote, which has made United Kingdom goods cheaper for overseas buyers, helped new export orders climb for the 13th month in a row, according to the report. However, the respective rates of inflation were strong in the context of historical data, with companies citing the impact of adverse currency movements on import costs.

"Growth of new export business played a lesser role in comparison, with the trend in foreign demand continuing to improve only in fits and starts, despite the assistance of a historically weak sterling exchange rate".

PMI of manufacturing companies stood at 55.4 in May, up from 54.5 in April.

Manufacturers have "posted further marked growth over May", according to a Purchasing Managers Index survey released by IHS/Markit today.

Factory job creation was especially strong, with the index rising to 56.2, the highest since May 1998, from 55.6 a month earlier.

Manufacturing performance across Asean, as noted in the index report, slipped from 51.1 in April to 50.5 in May.

  • Zachary Reyes