China’s manufacturing sector tumbled in February, as many factories shut down in response to the coronavirus outbreak. According to the latest reading published by the National Bureau of Statistics on Saturday, the Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index (PMI), a measure of factory activity across the country, plummeted to a record low of 35.7 in February, indicating a deep contraction.
While the outbreak’s impact will certainly persist through March, the NBSC tried to spread some optimism in its official press release, saying that as of February 25, 78.9 percent of the enterprises surveyed through their purchasing managers had returned to work.
The Manufacturing PMI is considered one of the most important indicators for China’s economic backbone. Due to China’s status as the world’s manufacturing hub, it is also widely followed internationally as a gauge for the health of the country’s overall economy.