(Yicai Global) Feb. 1 -- China's Caixin Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index for January slid to its lowest point since February 2016, indicating that business performance among the country's small enterprises is below expectations and they remain in contraction.
The PMI fell 1.3 point to 48.3, below an expectation of 49.6. The reading marks the second consecutive month of a reading below the 50-point threshold.
The PMI, a widely watched indicator, is a survey of businesses in a specific industry regarding the operating environment. A reading above 50 signals expansion in the sector, while one below 50 represents contraction.
The National Bureau of Statistics' official PMI reading was 49.5 in January, up 0.1 point on the month.
China has two key PMIs. The official PMI is run by the state and comprises 3,000 companies, most of which are state-owned, whereas the Caixin index, often known as the Caixin-Markit Index, reaches out to 500 businesses which are generally smaller and privately owned.