China Manufacturer activity remained weak at the start of 2015, with the final reading for January by the HSBC Purchasing Managers’ index (PMI) posting 49.7, up from 49.6 in December, according to an HSBC report on Monday.
The data provide a snapshot of the operating conditions in China’s manufacturing sector, which picked up momentum in January but still hovered below an expansion-contraction mark.
A reading above 50 indicates expansion, while a reading below that represents contraction.
"The latest data signal a second successive monthly deterioration in the sector, albeit slight," according to the report.
The official manufacturing PMI posted 49.8 in January, down 0.3 percentage point from December, according to a joint release from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) and the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing (CFLP) on Sunday.
This was the first time the official data dropped below the 50-point mark since October 2012, marking increasing downward pressures on the economy.
"We think demand in the manufacturing sector remains weak and more aggressive monetary and fiscal easing measures will be needed to prevent another sharp slowdown," HSBC chief China economist Qu Hongbin said.
China cut its benchmark interest rates on Nov. 22 for the first time in more than two years in an effort to step up support for the economy, which grew 7.4 percent in 2014, the weakest annual expansion in 24 years.