BEIJING, Feb 29 (Reuters) - Factory activity in China contracted at the fastest pace on record in February, as the coronavirus outbreak suspended large movements of goods and people across the country.
The Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) fell to 35.7 in February from 50.0 in January, China’s National Bureau of Statistics said on Saturday, well below the neutral 50-point mark that separates growth from contraction on a monthly basis.
Analysts polled by Reuters had expected the February headline reading to come in at 46.0.
Analysts expect the growth of the world’s second-biggest economy to suffer another sharp blow in the first quarter of this year as the coronavirus, which has killed almost 3,000 people in mainland China, forces widespread transport curbs and tough public health measures. (Reporting by Lusha Zhang and Ryan Woo; Editing by Sandra Maler)