China’s February Factory Activity Grows at Fastest Rate since 2012 as Consumer Sentiment Improves

Factory activity in China grew at its fastest pace in more than a decade in February, according to official data released on Wednesday, as consumer confidence rose in response to the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions.

With a reading of 52.6 in February, the official manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) is now above the 50-point threshold that distinguishes expansion from contraction. It was also the highest reading since April of 2012.

It’s up from January’s 50.1 and better than the 50.5 predicted by Reuters’ poll of economists.

The COVID-19 restrictions were abruptly dropped in December as the highly transmissible Omicron swept across the country.

Companies resumed work and production more quickly as the effect of economic stabilization initiatives was felt by the sector and the impact of COVID-19 faded, according to a separate statement from the statistics bureau.

Although the manufacturing sector has shown indications of improvement, it remains under pressure with factory-gate prices decreasing in January due to continued wary domestic consumption and uncertain overseas demand.

The PMI for services also improved, reaching 56.3 from 54.4 in January. This is the highest number since June 2022.