China factory measure improves but activity still sluggish

BEIJING - An official measure of China's manufacturing improved in January but forecasters say economic activity is sluggish as Chinese leaders try to resolve a tariff battle with Washington.

The purchasing managers' index issued Thursday by the government statistics agency and an industry group rose 0.1 points on a 100-point scale but stayed below a level that shows activity expanding.

Measures for employment and domestic demand weakened.

China's economic growth sank to a three-decade low in 2018 after activity decelerated in the final quarter of the year.

Citigroup economists said in a report, "we see economic growth remaining sluggish" through the first half of 2019.

Chinese and U.S. negotiators began talks Wednesday in Washington aimed at resolving the fight over U.S. complaints about Beijing's technology ambitions.


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