China's manufacturing contracted in November for the first time since early 2009, as weak export orders and a slowing economy at home sapped demand for most products, a government survey shows.
The China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing said Thursday that its monthly purchasing managers index fell an greater-than-expected 1.4 percentage points to 49, well below the 50-level that signifies expansion.
The European debt crisis and feeble U.S. recovery have weakened demand in China's biggest export market, while at home efforts to curb inflation by cooling the property market are hurting a wide range of industries heavily dependent on housing and other construction.
The official PMI also fell an unexpectedly large 0.8 percentage point in October to 50.4.
China's export growth has fallen steadily since hitting a peak of nearly 36 percent in March. Its monthly trade surplus with the 27-nation European Union fell 10.3 percent from a year earlier to $13 billion in October as countries that use the euro common currency struggle to contain a sovereign debt crisis.
The federation said that most measures in the purchasing managers' survey were lower, with the exception of imports, which rose a scant 0.3 percentage point from the month before, and finished goods inventories, which rose a substantial 2.8 percentage points.
In its most recent move to ease credit, China's central bank on Wednesday reduced bank reserve levels to release money for lending and help shore up slowing growth.
China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing (in Chinese): http://www.cflp.org.cn