China’s manufacturing PMI rebounds in Nov, but outlook remains sluggish

China’s manufacturing purchasing managers’ index, or PMI, rebounded to 50.1 points in November, an expansion in manufacturing activity for the first time in two months but still the third lowest in 21 months, China’s National Bureau of Statistics said.

China’s PMI was seen at 49.2 points in October and at 49.6 points in September. PMI, which indicates direction of economic trends in manufacturing, is in contraction if the reading is below 50 points.

As power shortages eased in November, it led to improved manufacturing production in China.

However, new orders have now remained in contraction for four straight months. Similarly, new export orders contracted for the seventh month in a row.

Market sources told S&P Global Platts that they expect sluggish domestic consumption and slowing property investment would continue to weigh on the recovery of the manufacturing industry and its demand for steel into 2022, especially as overseas orders for Chinese goods were tapering off after overseas factory operations gradually return to normal.

Some steel mill sources said steel demand from vehicle and home appliances sectors — indicators of consumption-related manufacturing — showed no signs of improvement in November.

One source said passenger car production was likely to increase in 2022 due to easing semiconductor chip shortages.

“But the growth [of passenger cars] should be limited, as [China’s] domestic consumption is likely to remain sluggish amid intermittent new COVID-19 cases and slowed economic growth,” the source added.

Meanwhile, property investment is expected to trend downwards in 2022 due to declining new home sales and land purchases at a time of tightened credit borrowing, according to some steel market participants.

Construction-related manufactured goods, as well as home appliances, will continue to feel the heat brought about by property sector, sources said.

Given the prospect of a slowdown in domestic steel demand, China’s steel production in 2022 is unlikely to exceed the level in 2021, even without any government requirements, according to sources.

According to NBS, sub-indexes of manufacturing production rebounded to 52 points in November, up from 49.2 points in October and 49.6 points in September.

New orders and new export orders also rebounded by 1.4 and 1.9 points from October, but were still in contraction at 49.4 and 48.5 points, respectively.

— Staff