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New China factory output fall adds to economic woe

STORY: There are fresh worries for China’s economy.

Numbers out Friday showed factory activity falling for a fifth month.

The official purchasing managers’ index fell to 49.1 in February - that’s well below the 50-point mark that would indicate rising activity.

Though the country’s new year holidays may be partly to blame, economists also pointed to a sharp slowdown in overseas orders for Chinese goods.

A private survey out later in the morning did, however, paint a brighter picture, suggesting manufacturing activity was actually on the up.

Even so, the official numbers will add to doubts over China’s post-COVID era recovery, and stoke expectations of more stimulus measures to come.

Policymakers have already pledged action, after steps taken since June had only modest effect.

The latest figures come against a backdrop of mounting turmoil in the country’s vast property market.

Days earlier, giant developer Country Garden said it faced a liquidation petition filed by creditors.

Bigger rival Evergrande has already been ordered to liquidate by a Hong Kong court.

In Shanghai, this woman says ordinary people are very worried about the real estate crisis - and whether it could spark a downward spiral in the economy.

Now markets await China’s official growth target for the year, due to be revealed on Tuesday.

Despite all the headwinds, insiders expect Beijing to set a similar target to last year at around 5%.

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