By AARON BACK
BEIJING—China's official Purchasing Managers Index fell to 52.9 in April from 53.4 in March, likely assuaging concerns somewhat that overheating and inflation pressures will require further tightening measures by Chinese policymakers.
April's decline in the PMI indicates manufacturing growth slowed after briefly accelerating in March, resuming a trend of three consecutive monthly slowdowns prior to March.
Meanwhile, the input prices subindex, an indicator of inflation pressures, declined to 66.2 from 68.3 in March.
The China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing issued the data along with the National Bureau of Statistics on Sunday.
A PMI reading above 50 indicates an expansion in manufacturing activity, while a reading below 50 indicates contraction.
"Overall, the PMI indicates that the pace of China's economic growth may continue to slow, especially as slowing demand growth causes adjustment in inventories," CFLP analyst Zhang Liqun said in a statement.
Among key subindexes, the new export orders subindex fell to 51.3 from 52.5 in March, and the import orders subindex fell to 50.6 from 52. The output index fell to 55.2 from 55.7.
On Friday, another China PMI released by HSBC Holdings PLC was unchanged at 51.8 in April from March, while two price subindexes showed inflation was moderating but remains high.
The pace of inflation of companies' input and output prices moderated to eight-month lows, but both remained above their long-term averages, showing stubborn inflation pressures, HSBC said.
"Growth has been cooled a bit, but inflationary pressures have not been meaningfully alleviated," HSBC economist Qu Hongbin said in a research note. "While aggressive tightening seems unlikely, Beijing does need to keep the current pace of tightening for another 3-4 months to tame inflation."
The input prices subindex fell to 62.4 in April from 69.5 in March, but remained above the long-term average of 60. Similarly, the output prices subindex fell to 55.2 from 56.1 in March, compared with the long-term average of 53.3.
Export order growth was only marginal, HSBC said, with the new export orders subindex rising to 50.5 from 50.4 in March.
"Respondents widely commented that the subdued increase of new orders from abroad reflected lackluster demand in external markets," HSBC said.
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