China's factory activity in February plunged to a record low since comparable data became available in January 2005, government data showed Saturday, underscoring the impact of the new coronavirus on the world's second-largest economy.
The official manufacturing purchasing managers' index fell to 35.7 this month, sharply down by 14.3 points from the previous month, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.
A reading below 50 indicates a contraction in manufacturing activity. The latest figure was below the 38.8 marked in November 2008 during the global financial crisis.
But Chinese President Xi Jinping said during a telephone conversation Friday with Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel that the situation surrounding the new virus has started to turn a corner and that the impact of the outbreak on the country's economy would be "limited," the Foreign Ministry said.
The Chinese economy has already slowed due largely to a nearly two-year-long tit-for-tat trade war with the United States, making it more difficult for the nation's smaller companies to raise capital, analysts say.
The economy grew at its slowest pace in 29 years in 2019, expanding 6.1 percent from a year earlier, official data showed last month.
The number of newly reported coronavirus infections in mainland China, meanwhile, increased by 427 to a total of 79,251 on Friday, with the death toll rising by 47 to 2,835, health authorities said.