A Chinese manufacturing index declined in April from March, indicating that growth may moderate in the world’s second-biggest economy after the government raised interest rates and allowed faster gains in the yuan.
The Purchasing Managers’ Index fell to 52.9 from 53.4, China’s logistics federation and the statistics bureau said in an e-mail yesterday. That was below a median forecast of 53.9 in a Bloomberg News survey of 20 economists.
Premier Wen Jiabao’s government aims to counter the fastest inflation since 2008 and cool a real-estate market that has been at risk of price bubbles. Credit Suisse Group AG says the nation’s fifth increase in benchmark rates since the global financial crisis may come as early as today, a Chinese holiday, less than a month after the previous move.
“This slowdown won’t pose a concern as it indicates that Beijing’s tightening measures are taking effect,” said Liu Li-Gang, an economist at Australia & New Zealand Banking Group in Hong Kong who has worked for the World Bank. “The moderation in economic growth could help to ease inflationary pressure, and inflation should gradually slow in the coming few months.”
Zhang Liqun, a senior researcher at the State Council’s Development Research Center, said in yesterday’s statement that the data show an increased likelihood that growth will slow. Gross domestic product expanded 9.7 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier and the World Bank last week forecast a full-year expansion of 9.3 percent.
The survey released yesterday was of 820 companies in 28 industries, such as textiles and oil processing. A separate PMI, released by Markit Economics and HSBC Holdings Plc, had indicated that manufacturing grew in April at the same pace as in March. That survey covered more than 430 companies.
An executive at billionaire investor Warren Buffett’s Burlington Northern Santa Fe expressed confidence that the Asian nation will continue to maintain a pace of growth that bolsters the global expansion.
“I’m very, very bullish about the recovery,” Matt Rose, chief executive officer of the railroad business, said April 30 in an interview in Omaha, Nebraska. “It’s really driven by worldwide demand, specifically China.”
China’s consumer prices jumped 5.4 percent in March, compared with the government’s full-year target of 4 percent. Premier Wen Jiabao aims to restrain inflation that he describes as a “tiger” that once out of control is difficult to tame, while also boosting private consumption and shifting the economy from an excessive dependence on exports and investment.
The International Monetary Fund indicated last week that the premier may be winning the battle to contain prices.
“The current episode of inflation does not look like a bout of generalized overheating, with China’s strong growth beginning to bump up against capacity constraints,” the IMF said in a report. “Barring future supply shocks either domestically or in global commodity markets, inflation in China is likely to return toward the low single digits in the second half of 2011.”
The yuan strengthened beyond 6.5 per dollar for the first time since 1993 on April 29 as the U.S. currency slid. A stronger yuan may help to cool inflation by effectively making imports cheaper.
The logistics federation said yesterday’s data showed an “appropriate adjustment” in growth as the nation alters the structure of its economy. Export orders and input prices grew at a slower pace, while an index of output was little changed from the level in March.
Coal and electricity supplies are tight, according to some companies, a situation that needs to be monitored, the logistics group said in a separate statement on its website.
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