China's Private Sector Expands Moderately In April

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China's private sector activity growth picked up since March but remained weaker than that seen at the turn of the year, survey results from IHS Markit showed Friday.

The Caixin composite output index rose to 52.3 in April from a four-month low of 51.8 in March. A score above 50 indicates expansion.

April survey data pointed to stronger increases in output across both the manufacturing and service sectors. Manufacturing output grew at a slightly faster pact but still moderate.

The services Purchasing Managers' Index climbed to 52.9 in April from 52.3 in March. The reading was expected to remain unchanged at 52.3.

New business placed at Chinese companies also rose at a slightly faster rate but remained moderate overall. The acceleration was largely driven by service providers.

Staffing levels continued to decline across the manufacturing sector in April, while services companies took on additional workers to assist with new projects. Consequently, employment at the composite level stabilized at the start of the second quarter.

The rate of input price inflation across China's service sector continued to ease from January's multi-year peak in April. Meanwhile, cost inflation picked up slightly at manufacturing companies. Overall, input prices advanced at a moderate pace that was the softest since June 2017.

Prices charged for services grew at a moderate pace and factory gate prices rose only slightly, with the rate of inflation easing from March. Consequently, prices charged at the composite level continued to increase modestly.

The survey showed that weaker business confidence at manufacturers offset an improvement at services companies in April, pushing overall sentiment towards the year ahead outlook for output to the lowest level for three months.