Asian markets slide as Chinese manufacturing disappoints
Asian stocks are falling in the wake of the preliminary China purchasing managers' index (PMI) from HSBC/Markit for February, which fell to a seven-month low of 48.3.
The index continued to slide from January's reading of 49.5, as employment declined at the most rapid rate seen in the past five years. A slowdown in the Chinese economy was one of the main reasons for last month's panic in emerging market assets.
However, it was not all bad news for the world's second largest economy as the data showed an increase in exports and bank lending.
The Nikkei is down two per cent after Japan posted an increased trade deficit, while the Hong Kong Hang Seng Index is down one per cent.
China economist at Capital Economics Julian Evans-Pritchard commented:
The below 50 readings of the past two months leave little doubt that conditions in the manufacturing sector are downbeat. This is not necessarily a concern. Broader indicators suggest that the labour market remains healthy. Moreover, the recent weakness in manufacturing partly reflects the welcome slowdown in credit and investment growth which began in the middle of last year.