China business confidence, recruitment hit record lows in January - SMI survey

Investors are seen in front of an electronic screen showing stock prices at a brokerage house in Beijing, China, June 30, 2015. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s business confidence and recruitment activity slipped to record lows in January, a survey showed, adding to signs of weakness in the world’s second-largest economy that could prod policymakers to roll out more support measures.

The Sales Managers’ Index, compiled by London-based World Economics, fell to 51.0 in January from 51.7 in December.

“The Headline SMI index fell slightly in January, but continues to suggest ongoing, albeit modest growth in economic activity,” World Economics Chief Executive Ed Jones said.

The index has averaged 51.4 since the second half of last year, indicating China’s economic activity is still growing steadily, albeit at a much slower rate than a year ago.

The Sales Managers’ Index covers all private sectors of the economy. It is designed to reflect overall economic growth, bringing together the average movement of Confidence, Market Expansion, Product Sales, Prices Charged and Staffing Indices.

The staffing index fell to 50.3 in January, near the 50 no-change mark, from 50.8 in December, hitting its lowest since the survey began, as businesses have become more hesitant to recruit as economic activity weakens, the survey showed.

Reporting by Kevin Yao; Editing by Kim Coghill