BEIJING — Chinese manufacturing expanded in January at close to its fastest pace in two years as heavy government spending and a bank lending boom helped to keep economic activity steady headed into 2017, a survey showed Wednesday.
The National Bureau of Statistics’ purchasing managers index showed manufacturing growth at 51.4 on a 100-point scale on which numbers above 50 indicate an expansion.
That was down only slightly from November’s two-year high of 51.7. Growth in the world’s second-largest economy declined to 6.7 percent last year, down from 2015’s 6.9 percent and the weakest rate since 1990. Heavy government spending and a boom in real estate sales and bank lending helped prevent it from cooling further. Forecasters expect growth to weaken further this year as regulators try to cool what analysts warns is a dangerously fast run-up in debt and rising housing costs.
The International Monetary Fund is predicting this year’s growth will slow to 6.5 percent. The latest data show a “relatively strong start to the year,” Julian Evans-Pritchard of Capital Economics said in a report.