Asia's manufacturers buoyant at end 2013, China a question mark

Thu Jan 2, 2014 5:54am EST
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By Aileen Wang and Se Young Lee

BEIJING/SEOUL (Reuters) - Asia's manufacturing sector ended 2013 on a strong note, with expansion hitting multi-year highs in export-driven Japan and Taiwan, but signs of moderation in China raises concerns about the outlook for the new year.

Both official and private measures of manufacturing activity in China fell in December, reinforcing views the world's second-largest economy lost some steam in the final quarter of 2013.

The HSBC/Markit Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) for China slipped to a three-month low of 50.5 in December, consistent with a dip in the government's PMI to a four-month low of 51.0. Still, both held above the 50 point level that separates expansion from contraction.

"The economy is still growing, no doubt, but the growth momentum has weakened," said Yao Wei, economist at Societe Generale in Hong Kong.

That could temper some of the optimism about export-dependent countries such as Japan, where the last week the Markit/JMMA Manufacturing PMI rose to a 7-1/2 year high in December.

The manufacturing data weighed on Asian shares on Thursday, with the MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan down 0.6 percent.

The PMI report from the euro zone is due at 0858 GMT, while the report for the United States is due at 1358 GMT.


An employee welds a water turbine at a factory in Jinhua, Zhejiang province May 23, 2013. REUTERS/William Hong