BEIJING, March 8 (Xinhua) -- China's steel sector slowed down in February as market demand weakened amid the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, a report from the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing (CFLP) showed.
The purchasing managers' index (PMI) for China's iron and steel industry came in at 36.6 in February, down from 47.1 in January, according to the CFLP Steel Logistics Professional Committee.
A reading above 50 indicates expansion, while a reading below reflects contraction.
The report attributed the slowdown to the weak demand during the epidemic, noting that production and business activities of steel companies slowed down last month while steel inventory was on the rise.
The committee expected the steel industry to gradually return to a normal track as the epidemic situation improves and infrastructure investment warms up.
China's steel market witnessed hot demand in 2019 thanks to the steady operation of infrastructure building, real estate and other downstream industries.
Steel consumption totaled about 880 million tonnes in 2019, up 6 percent year on year from 2018, according to the China Iron and Steel Industry Association.