By Joe Cash
BEIJING (Reuters) -China’s factory activity likely steadied in September, a Reuters poll showed on Thursday, adding to a run of indicators suggesting that the world’s second-largest economy has begun to stabilise.
The official purchasing managers’ index (PMI) is expected to have edged up to 50.0 in September from 49.7 a month before, according to the median forecast of 24 economists in a Reuters poll.
The highest projection was a reading of 50.6 and the lowest 49.8. An index reading above 50 indicates expansion in activity on a monthly basis while below that signals contraction.
Policymakers have announced a slew of steps in recent months to shore up growth. These include reducing the amount banks must to hold in reserve, cutting mortgage rates, as well as 31 measures to support the private sector.
But analysts say more policy support will be needed to ensure the economy reaches Beijing’s annual growth target of about 5%.
China’s factory output and retail sales grew at a faster pace in August, while declines of exports and imports narrowed and deflationary pressures eased.
But tumbling investment in the crisis-hit property sector continues to threaten prospects for the economy’s recovery. New home prices fell at the fastest pace in 10 months in August and property investment declined for an 18th straight month.
The Asian Development Bank last week trimmed its growth forecast for China to 4.9% from 5.0% in July due to the weakness in the property sector.
The PMI, which largely focuses on big and state-owned firms, as well as a survey for the services sector, will be released on Saturday.
A separate private-sector survey, the Caixin/S&P Global manufacturing PMI, is due on Sunday. Economists have forecast that will come in at 51.2 for September, up from last month’s reading of 51.0.
(Reporting by Joe Cash; Polling by Veronica Khongwir and Milounee Purohit; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)