Global growth fears heighten as Chinese factory output shrinks for the first time in seven months

Figures released today show the Chinese manufacturing sector contracting in April, for the first time in seven months.

The HSBC manufacturing purchasing manager's index dropped from 50.4 to 49.2 (a number below 50 implies a contraction in the sector). Forecasts had suggested a lesser decline, to 49.6.

Qu Hongbin, chief China economist at HSBC:

The downward revision of the final HSBC China Manufacturing PMI suggests a marginal weakening of manufacturing activities towards the end of May, thanks to deteriorating domestic demand conditions.