China's manufacturing activity contracted at its slowest pace in five months in July, an independent survey showed Tuesday, indicating that Beijing's easing measures were beginning to take effect.
Preliminary figures from HSBC's closely watched purchasing managers' index (PMI), which gauges nationwide manufacturing activity, hit a five-month high of 49.5 in July.
HSBC said the reading, which was higher than the 48.2 that HSBC recorded in June, indicated that government measures to boost economic growth were working.
"That said, the below-50 July reading implied demand still remaining weak and employment under increasing pressure," Qu Hongbin, a Hong Kong-based economist with HSBC said. "This calls for more easing efforts to support growth and jobs."
China's gross domestic product fell to a more than three year low of 7.6% in the second quarter, prompting the central bank to take the rare step of slashing interest rates for the second time since early June. It has also cut the amount of money banks must keep in reserve, aimed at stimulating lending, three times since December.
Chinese leaders have vowed to take further measures, and Premier Wen Jiabao has called stabilizing economic growth the government's top priority.
Qu the economist said falling inflation gave Beijing leeway to introduce more policies to bolster growth, with "meaningful improvement" of the world's second-largest economy expected in the coming months.
China's consumer price index, the main measure of inflation, slowed to 2.2% in June, its lowest level in 29 months, according to official data.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2012