* China official PMI eases to 50.4 for Jan, vs 50.6 in Dec
* HSBC final China Jan PMI jumps to two-year high at 52.3
* India Jan PMI eases to 53.2 from 54.7 in Dec
* Indonesia manufacturing contracts for first time since May
By Koh Gui Qing
BEIJING, Feb 1 (Reuters) - Asia's manufacturers face a
challenging business climate in the coming months, a clutch of
surveys suggested on Friday, with China's vast factory sector
managing only a shallow rebound at the start of 2013 as feeble
foreign demand dragged on sales.
Two separate versions of China's purchasing managers' index
(PMI) showed on Friday that factory output in the world's
second-biggest economy rose in January, but the pace of the
revival in activity was uneven.
The patchy nature of the recovery on Chinese factory floors
was repeated in other PMI releases across Asia. Surveys showed
manufacturing growth slowed or stalled in India and South Korea,
Asia's third- and fourth-largest economies respectively.
Factories in Indonesia, the star emerging economy of the
past year, said business shrank in January from December for the
first time in eight months, while manufacturers in Taiwan
reported the fastest growth in 10 months.
"January's PMI does raise some red flags about the state of
the economy," Alistair Thornton, an economist at IHS Global
Insight in Beijing, said in reference to the Chinese economy.
"Things look a little shaky."
Manufacturing PMI surveys for the United States and the
eurozone were due for release later on Friday.
China's official PMI released by the government's statistics
bureau showed factories grew slower-than-expected in January,
with a reading of 50.4, easing from December's 50.6 and below
forecasts for a nine-month high of 50.9.
The official PMI has been above the 50-point level
demarcating growth or contraction from the previous month since
August 2012, though its failure to break above 51 indicates that
the economic expansion it signals is only moderate.
A private sector PMI released by HSBC, on the other hand,
rose to a two-year high of 52.3.
Trade prospects in China, the world's biggest exporter,
appeared darker than those elsewhere.
The twin Chinese PMIs showed export orders either grew
marginally or shrank in January as shoppers in the United States
and Europe, the two biggest buyers of Chinese goods, cut back
Domestic demand, on the other hand, was the main force
behind China's gentle economic rebound, driving growth in new
orders in January to multi-month highs.
The new orders sub-index in the official PMI inched up to a
nine-month high of 51.6, while that for the HSBC PMI climbed to
a two-year high of 53.7.
With domestic demand resilient, price pressures were shown
building in China.
The HSBC PMI showed the input prices sub-index jumping to
its highest since September 2011, while the official PMI showed
the input price sub-index zooming to a 17-month high of 57.2.
Friday's data showed India is as vulnerable as China to an
export slump, especially as demand from Europe crumbles.
Growth in Indian factories eased to a three-month low of
53.2 in January, retreating from December's six-month high of
54.7, as new export orders slowed.
"The growth momentum in the manufacturing sector eased in
January as a slower expansion in new orders slowed output
growth," Leif Eskesen, an economist at HSBC, said of India's
In Taiwan, one of the world's top makers of electronics, the
PMI zoomed to a 10-month high of 51.5 as factories raised output
markedly. Total new export orders also rose for the second month
in January, but after adjusting for seasonality growth was
marginal at best.
Factories in South Korea, home to some of the world's
leading suppliers of smartphones, cars, ships and electronic
goods, fared better with overseas buyers, reporting their first
growth in export orders in eight months.
Even with stronger export demand, however, the South Korean
PMI edged down to a seasonally adjusted 49.9 in January from
50.1 in December.
Indonesian manufacturers also said they received more orders
from abroad, but despite that growth in factories stalled for
the first time since May.
The Indonesian PMI retreated to 49.7 from 50.7 in December
as domestic demand in Southeast Asia's largest economy dragged.
"Strong export orders appear to have offset a moderation in
domestic orders, which may have been partially impacted by the
Jakarta floods," said Su Sian Lim, an economist at HSBC.