China’s Frozen Factories Warm Up, a Little

The Northern Hemisphere is firmly in the grip of winter—and potentially, a nasty new coronavirus variant. But Tuesday brought some good news for markets: Chinese factories are ramping up again. China’s official manufacturing purchasing managers index for November rallied to 50.1, breaching the 50-point mark separating expansion from contraction for the first time since August.

Nonetheless the improvement shouldn’t be overstated. The production subindex jumped sharply, likely due to fewer power curbs as the fall’s electricity shortages ease. But new orders remain subdued. And the service sector decelerated further, with business activity expanding at the weakest pace since February, excluding the sharp drop in August when the country was combating a Delta variant outbreak.