China's manufacturing boom picked up pace in November, shrugging off weakness in the U.S. and other export markets that slowed production in Japan and Australia.
The state-affiliated China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing said Wednesday that its purchasing managers index, or PMI, rose to 55.2 last month from 54.7 in October and 53.8 in September.
Monthly readings have stayed above 50, the benchmark for expansion, for 21 straight months, despite a slight slowing in China's economic growth in the three months ending in September to 9.6 percent from a post-crisis peak of 11.9 percent in the first quarter of this year.
A competing Chinese survey, the HSBC China Manufacturing PMI — a seasonally adjusted index designed to measure the performance of the manufacturing economy — rose to an eight-month high of 55.3 percent in November, up from 54.8 percent in October.
That data contrasted with reports showing Australia's growth slowed to 0.2 percent in the three months that ended in September, or an annual rate of 2.7 percent. The biggest damper on growth: a fall in net exports as the value of the Australian dollar surged in value.
Japan, likewise, has struggled to keep its economic recovery alive as it battles deflation and a stronger currency. Japanese factories cut production for the fifth straight month in October as makers of cars and electronics scaled back production, the government said Tuesday, though it noted the 1.8 percent drop was smaller than expected.
While China's overall growth has cooled from the torrid pace of early this year, strong domestic demand appears to be offsetting any weakness in the country's export markets.
Both manufacturing surveys noted the issue of rising prices for both products and inputs — parts and materials used in manufacturing — as a concern after inflation surged to a 25-month high in October.
That trend, "is likely to translate into concern about inflation. We expect Beijing to step up its efforts of quantitative tightening and to hike interest rates," said Hongbin Qu, HSBC's chief economist for China.
China has stepped up a campaign to combat price hikes, banning hoarding of key commodities and cracking down on speculators, struggling to keep growth on track while cooling price hikes it attributes mainly to rising food prices.
Beijing is also complaining, however, that huge flows of liquidity from U.S. efforts to stimulate the fragile American recovery are another factor driving prices higher.
The federation's survey noted surges in global prices for gold, copper, oil and corn, among other commodities, that it said are spilling into the Chinese economy.
"We believe that there is hope the current fast pace of inflation is moderating," the federation's report said. But it added that, "We must prepare for rainy days and prevent these sources of uncertainty from becoming sources of economic instability."
© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.