China’s Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) fell to 49.8 in January

China’s Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) fell to 49.8 in January, the National Bureau of Statistics said on Sunday, a low last seen in September 2012 and a whisker below the 50-point level that separates growth from contraction on a monthly basis. The December level was 50.1, and estimate was 50.2 for January.

Most of the PMI indexes “showed a downward trend, indicating that current economic growth is still in a downtrend,” said Zhang Liqun, an economist at the Development Research Center, a state think-tank.

Some economists said the January reading was especially downbeat as it suggested that factories did not enjoy a usual spike in business before China’s annual Spring Festival holiday, which falls in mid-February this year.

The poor January official PMI fueled bets that more monetary policy loosening was in store in the world’s second-largest economy.