The HSBC Flash Purchasing Managers’ Index notched up from 48.3 in March to 49.1 in April, the strongest month for manufacturing activity this year but still indicating contraction in factory production, Reuters reported. The HSBC manufacturing PMI has not been consistently above 50, the level separating contraction from expansion, since June of last year. However, it remains well above the low-40s seen during late 2008 and early 2009. “The index pointed to a slower pace of deterioration than in March, largely reflecting slower rates of decline of manufacturing production and new orders,” said Markit Economic Research, which publishes the index. Zhang Zhiwei, head China economist at Nomura, argued that the flash PMI reinforced perceptions that economic growth bottomed out in the first quarter. HSBC says that a reading of 48 signals industrial output corresponding to overall economic growth over 8%.