China's official Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) continued to decelerate in June, falling to 50.2 from 50.4 in May, the Beijing-based National Bureau of Statistics and China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing released in a joint statement over the weekend.
The latest figure denoted China's lowest PMI reading since November 2011, when it hit 49.
A PMI reading above 50 indicates expansion, while a reading below 50 means contraction.
"June PMI continued to fall, but with an obviously smaller margin, which indicates the fall in economic growth may stabilise," Zhang Liqun of government think-tank the Development Research Centre said in the statement.
Although economists far expected the latest figure to be much lower, still they don't find the June reading worthy of much rejoicing because subindexes for new orders, exports and imports actually reveleased depressing scenarios.
The new-orders subindex plummeted to 49.2 in June from 49.8 in May, while new export orders dropped into contraction territory at 47.5, down from 50.4. The imports subindex, meanwhile, was hit 46.5 in June, down 1.6 points from May.
"I am pessimistic about the exports situation in the second half-year, as the euro zone will step into recession," economist Ding Shuang told the Wall Street Journal.
The weaker PMI reading "will likely push policy makers to introduce incremental measures such as reserve-ratio cuts and easing lending restrictions to stabilize growth," economist Lu Ting told Bloomberg News.
"It's clear the slowdown of export growth as a result of weakness in Europe and the U.S. continues to weigh on the Chinese economy," he said.
"New orders and input prices are still falling, which show there are still many factors affecting production. A recovery in industrial output would take time," Zhang said.
China will release its gross domestic product figure for the second quarter on July 13. Its economy expanded 8.1 per cent annually in the first quarter of 2012, its lowest speed in three years. China's economic growth target for this year is 7.5 per cent, from 9.2 per cent in 2011 and 10.4 per cent in 2010.
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