China’s manufacturing sector ended its four-month downward trend in March, official data showed Sunday, but exports continued their long slide in the wake of the Washington-Beijing trade war.
The official Purchasing Managers’ Index, a measure of factory activity, rose to 50.5 in March from the previous month’s contraction and three-year low of 49.2.
The growth was likely driven by seasonal factors as factories ramped up production after February’s Lunar New Year holidays.
Some steel mills and coal power plants also increased output as winter smog restrictions end.
Factory output also grew at its fastest pace in six months in March, China’s National Bureau of Statistics reported, but export orders shrank for the 10th straight month amid slowing global growth and as collateral damage in the trade spat the United States.
Over the last eight months, Washington and Beijing have slapped tariffs on more than $360 billion in two-way goods trade, weighing on the manufacturing sectors in both countries.
US and Chinese negotiators wrapped up trade talks in Beijing on Friday ahead of another round next week, when China’s economic tsar Liu He will head to Washington to continue discussions on a possible deal.
China has announced a raft of stimulus measures to cushion the impact from it’s cooling economy.
Earlier this month, Premier Li Keqiang announced more spending on roads, railways and other big-ticket infrastructure projects, along with tax cuts worth 2 trillion yuan ($297.27 billion) to ease pressure on companies and spur employment.
China announced a lower growth target of 6.0 to 6.5 percent this year, down from 6.6 percent growth in 2018.