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China’s factory activity expanded at a slightly slower pace in October but was slightly above analysts’ expectations, suggesting a continuing economic recovery as the country rebounds from the coronavirus shock.
The official manufacturing Purchasing Manager’s Index (PMI) fell to 51.4 in October from 51.5 in September, data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed on Saturday, remaining above the 50-point mark that separates growth from contraction.
Analysts had expected it to slip slightly to 51.3 but said a broader recovery still appeared to be solidly on track.
The data, particularly new export orders, indicates October’s trade figures should stay strong, Zhou Maohua, an analyst at China Everbright Bank, said in a note. However, the epidemic’s spread overseas could increase uncertainties for China’s exports over the next few months, said Zhou.
China’s vast industrial sector is steadily returning to the levels seen before the pandemic paralysed huge swathes of the economy.
Pent-up demand, stimulus-driven infrastructure expansion and surprisingly resilient exports are propelling the rebound, though the global outlook is dimming as many Western countries battle renewed surges in the virus that causes COVID-19, with some going back into virus lockdowns.
The official PMI, which largely focuses on big and state-owned firms, showed overall new orders remained steady at 52.8, while new export orders rose to 51.0, improving from 50.8 a month earlier.
But smaller firms continued to struggle. A sub-index for those companies stood at 49.4 in October, slipping back into contraction from September’s 50.1.
Companies also shed jobs for a sixth month in a row, and at a faster pace. A sub-index for employment fell to 49.3 from September’s 49.6.
“The manufacturing industry overall continues to pick up,” said NBS official Zhao Qinghe, while noting that small companies face weak market demand.
Some companies reported that the resurgence of the epidemic overseas had lengthened procurement periods for imports of raw materials and increased transport costs, Zhao said in a statement released with the data.
China’s economy grew a weaker-than-expected 4.9% in the third quarter year-on-year. It is expected to expand around 2% for the full year - the weakest in over three decades but still much stronger than other major economies.
The pandemic has been largely controlled in China, with daily life in much of the country returning to normal, although an outbreak emerged recently in the western region of Xinjiang.
A sister survey on the services sector showed activity expanded for the eighth straight month, hitting the highest level since October 2013, as the removal of restrictions on public gatherings and movement bolstered consumer demand.
Ant Group’s IPO: Retail investors placed bids for a record $3 trillion of shares in Ant Group Co Ltd’s initial public offering (IPO), set to be the world’s biggest, as mum-and-pop savers bet on demand for its financial services in China.
Ant’s dual listing is set to raise about $34.4 billion, split fairly evenly between Shanghai’s STAR Market and Hong Kong, topping Saudi Aramco’s $29.4 billion listing last December.
Investors, both retail and institutional, are rushing to buy into Ant, which operates China’s biggest payments platform and other financial services, despite risks of greater scrutiny at home and abroad.
The Shanghai leg of the IPO drew about 19 trillion yuan ($2.8 trillion) of bids from retail investors, or 872 times the number of shares earmarked for them, a company filing to the stock exchange showed on Thursday. The Hong Kong tranche got HK$1.3 trillion ($168 billion) in bids, or 389 times the shares on offer, said people with knowledge of the matter on Friday, declining to be identified as the information is not public yet.
The bookbuilding for the Hong Kong leg of the IPO of Ant, backed by e-commerce behemoth Alibaba, ran from Monday to Friday, while books for the Shanghai leg were open for one day on Thursday.
The $3 trillion of retail investor bids, equivalent to the gross domestic product of the United Kingdom, comes against the backdrop of shaky global markets ahead of next week’s US presidential election and a dour global economic outlook.
Investors in the IPO, however, have brushed aside company-specific and broader market concerns on hopes that Ant will continue to benefit from the rapid digitization of financial services in China.
China’s factory activity picked up pace in June, official data showed on Tuesday, although analysts warned weak global demand and a potential coronavirus resurgence are weighing on its longer-term recovery.
The bitter trade war between China and the United States kept Asian factory activity mostly in decline in August, business surveys showed, strengthening the case for policymakers to unleash fresh stimulus to fend off recession risks.
Factory activity in China shrank in August for the fourth month in a row as the United States ramped up trade pressure and domestic demand remained sluggish, pointing to a further slowdown in the world›s second-largest economy.
Alibaba, China’s biggest e-commerce company, has agreed to buy Kaola e-commerce unit from Chinese company NetEase for $2 billion, adding a platform that specialises in supplying curated luxury goods from abroad to domestic consumers.
World stocks remained on course for their best month ever on Friday as recent vaccine progress, Joe Biden’s US presidential election win, hopes for further stimulus, a commodity surge and descending dollar all lifted the spirits.
Ras Al Khaimah: Ras Al Khaimah International Airport (RAK Airport) on Friday welcomed the first scheduled SpiceJet passenger flight, with the aircraft’s arrival heralding the commencement of both a new phase of operations for the UAE transport
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