The HSBC flash purchasing managers’ index, a lead indicator of factory activity in China, fell to 48.1 in March from 49.6 in February, Reuters reported. Any reading below 50 indicates contraction in the manufacturing sector. The measure marks the fifth straight month of sub-50 readings in China, and comes on top of other bearish measurements released in recent weeks, such as a growing trade deficit. “This data suggests there’s something more profound at work, that it’s not just a Lunar New Year problem and that it’s not just affecting exports, but domestic demand,” said Tim Condon, chief economist and head of Asian research at ING. Oil commodity markets, the Australian dollar and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index fell on the news. HSBC says that due to the structure of China’s economy, the index still implies industrial production grew by 11-12% and GDP at about 8%.