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Chinese manufacturing growth slows in January

New orders rise, while exports decline.

The Chinese official purchasing managers’ index (PMI) measuring the performance of the manufacturing industry was at 50.4 in January 2013, down from 50.6 in December.

A PMI reading of above 50 indicates that the industry is expanding.

Economists had anticipated a strong performance from China in January as the country’s economy rebounded well in the fourth quarter of 2012. However, the marginal growth in PMI has disappointed markets.

Ding Shuang, an economist with Citi, told the Financial Times: “In general, we think the rebound is on track but the rebound seems to be quite modest.”

Meanwhile, the country’s main stock index, Shanghai Composite, declined 0.5 per cent in January after a growth of 20 per cent since November 2012.

New orders increased in January to 51.6 from 51.2 in December, due to a surge in domestic demand, while exports declined to 48.5 from 50 in December, primarily due to sluggish external demand.

In January 2013, the output index dipped to 51.3 from 52 in December, while the employment index fell to 47.8 from 49.

Lu Ting, an economist with Bank of America Merrill Lynch, told the Financial Times: “The PMI is a quite inaccurate barometer around the Chinese New Year holiday. We believe the Chinese economy and its related asset markets will remain in a sweet spot in the near term.”

A separate PMI published by HSBC showed that the country’s manufacturing sector had climbed to 52.3 in January 2013, compared to 51.5 in December.

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No, David Cameron’s speech was not “left wing”

Come on, guys.

There is a strange journalistic phenomenon that occurs when a party leader makes a speech. It is a blend of groupthink, relief, utter certainty, and online backslapping. It happened particularly quickly after David Cameron’s speech to Tory party conference today. A few pundits decided that – because he mentioned, like, diversity and social mobility – this was a centre-left speech. A leftwing speech, even. Or at least a clear grab for the liberal centre ground. And so that’s what everyone now believes. The analysis is decided. The commentary is written. Thank God for that.

Really? It’s quite easy, even as one of those nasty, wicked Tories, to mention that you actually don’t much like racism, and point out that you’d quite like poor children to get jobs, without moving onto Labour's "territory". Which normal person is in favour of discriminating against someone on the basis of race, or blocking opportunity on the basis of class? Of course he’s against that. He’s a politician operating in a liberal democracy. And this isn’t Ukip conference.

Looking at the whole package, it was actually quite a rightwing speech. It was a paean to defence – championing drones, protecting Britain from the evils of the world, and getting all excited about “launching the biggest aircraft carriers in our history”.

It was a festival of flagwaving guff about the British “character”, a celebration of shoehorning our history chronologically onto the curriculum, looking towards a “Greater Britain”, asking for more “national pride”. There was even a Bake Off pun.

He also deployed the illiberal device of inculcating a divide-and-rule fear of the “shadow of extremism – hanging over every single one of us”, informing us that children in UK madrassas are having their “heads filled with poison and their hearts filled with hate”, and saying Britain shouldn’t be “overwhelmed” with refugees, before quickly changing the subject to ousting Assad. How unashamedly centrist, of you, Mr Prime Minister.

Benefit cuts and a reduction of tax credits will mean the Prime Minister’s enthusiasm for “equality of opportunity, as opposed to equality of outcome” will be just that – with the outcome pretty bleak for those who end up losing any opportunity that comes with state support. And his excitement about diversity in his cabinet rings a little hollow the day following a tubthumping anti-immigration speech from his Home Secretary.

If this year's Tory conference wins the party votes, it’ll be because of its conservative commitment – not lefty love bombing.

Anoosh Chakelian is deputy web editor at the New Statesman.