China's factory activity likely sustained strong expansion in December: Reuters poll

FILE PHOTO: An employee wearing a face mask works at a factory of the component maker SMC during a government organised tour of its facility following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Beijing, China May 13, 2020. REUTERS/Thomas Peter/File Photo

BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s factory activity likely maintained a solid pace of expansion in December, a Reuters poll showed on Tuesday, as the world’s second-largest economy steadily recovers from the coronavirus crisis.

The official manufacturing Purchasing Manager’s Index (PMI) is expected to edge down to 52.0 in December from November’s 52.1, according to the median forecast of 27 economists polled by Reuters. A reading above 50 indicates an expansion in activity on a monthly basis.

China is on track to become the first to completely shake off the drag from widespread industry shutdowns. November’s PMI reading was the highest in more than three years.

Profits at China’s industrial firms grew robustly in November for a seventh month of gains, supported by strong industrial production and sales.

The Chinese economy is expected to expand around 2% for the full year - the weakest in over three decades but still much stronger than other major economies still struggling to contain virus infections.

Around two-thirds of executives in China said the country’s recovery to pre-COVID conditions is still more than three months away, according to a survey by China Beige Book released Monday.

“China Beige Book data continue to show a less robust recovery than official statistics,” said Leland Miller, the CEO of the U.S.-based consultancy, in a statement released alongside the survey results.

The official PMI, which largely focuses on big and state-owned firms, and its sister survey on the services sector, will both be released on Dec. 31.

The private sector Caixin manufacturing PMI will be published on Jan. 4, and the Caixin services PMI survey will be out on Jan. 6.

Reporting by Gabriel Crossley; Editing by Sam Holmes