China’s manufacturing contracted for a fourth month in April, according to a private survey that missed estimates and sent stocks in the region lower on concern the economy’s slowdown is deepening. A purchasing managers’ index was at 48.1, HSBC Holdings Plc and Markit Economics said in a statement today. That compared with a 48.4 median estimate from analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News, a preliminary reading of 48.3 and March’s 48. Numbers below 50 indicate contraction. Hong Kong stocks extended declines on the report, which suggests Communist Party leaders have to do more to set a floor under economic growth after property construction plunged last quarter and expansion cooled. Gross domestic product is projected to increase 7.3 percent this year as the government reins in credit, according to a Bloomberg survey, compared with an official target of about 7.5 percent. “There is no substantial improvement in terms of momentum,” said Ding Shuang, senior China economist at Citigroup Inc. in Hong Kong. The property-market slowdown is having “certainly some impact” on manufacturing, said Ding, who previously worked at the People’s Bank of China and International Monetary Fund. The Hang Seng Index fell 1.6 percent at 1:05 p.m. in Hong Kong and the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index (HSCEI) of mainland shares, also known as the H-share index, was down 1 percent. The Australian dollar dropped 0.1 percent to 92.65 U.S. cents following the report after earlier rising as much as 0.4 percent. Support Package The State Council has outlined a package of spending on railways and housing and tax relief to support growth and pledged extra efforts to aid exporters. The central bank has also lowered the reserve-requirement ratio for some rural banks by as much as 2 percentage points. The country last lowered the reserve ratio for large banks in May 2012, to 20 percent. The ratio is “relatively high” and remains a major tool of the nation’s monetary policy, PBOC officials Sheng Songcheng and Zhang Xuan wrote in an article dated May 4 in China Finance, a central bank publication. China Railway Corp. plans to increase this year’s investment to more than 800 billion yuan ($128 billion) from a previously announced 720 billion yuan, financial news provider Caixin reported on its website last week, citing a videoconference the company held on April 30. The amount had already been raised twice this year from an original 630 billion yuan to 700 billion yuan and then to 720 billion yuan, Caixin said. Property Market Cities including Tianjin, Hangzhou and Changsha plan to stimulate the property market by loosening home-purchase limits or letting buyers get household registration by buying homes, according to a report today in the China Securities Journal, which is supervised by the official Xinhua News Agency. Some expensive property projects in Shanghai have cut prices, the newspaper said. At the same time, officials have been pledging to avoid broader or stronger measures. Finance Minister Lou Jiwei reiterated that China won’t have short-term, large-scale stimulus, according to a statement today on the ministry’s website citing comments made May 3 at a meeting in Astana, Kazakhstan. “Beijing has introduced more reform measures which could support growth by inducing more private-sector investment,” Qu Hongbin, chief China economist for HSBC in Hong Kong, said in a statement. “We think bolder actions will be required to ensure the economy regains its momentum.” Official Index Today’s number compared with a reading of 50.4 in a manufacturing index released May 1 by the National Bureau of Statistics and the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing. HSBC and Markit’s survey indicated the rate of contraction in output and new orders eased from March, while the pace of job cuts accelerated. An index of new export orders was below 50, HSBC and Markit said. Almost all Chinese provinces failed to meet their growth targets in the first quarter even after scaling back their ambitions as the government instructs officials to focus on reining in debt and curbing pollution. Thirty of 31 provinces and municipalities reported missing their goals, with the biggest shortfall in northeastern Heilongjiang, where an expansion of 4.1 percent compared with an 8.5 percent target for the year. Most localities’ targets are lower than in 2013. To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Paul Panckhurst in Beijing at [email protected] To contact the editors responsible for this story: Stephanie Phang at [email protected]; Paul Panckhurst at [email protected]; Colin Keatinge at [email protected] Scott Lanman, Rina Chandran

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Nokia Oyj (NOK1V) plans to spend $100 million backing companies that develop intelligent-car technologies, joining the likes of billionaire Elon Musk and Google Inc. (GOOG) in betting that future vehicles will be smarter and more connected.

The investments, to be made by a new Nokia fund, are meant to support the mobile-technology company’s digital-map business, Nokia said today. It’ll be run by Nokia’s venture-capital arm, Nokia Growth Partners, which manages about $700 million.

Nokia is rebuilding itself and expanding to new fields after selling its mobile-phone unit to Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) for about $7.5 billion last month. While Nokia now gets most of its revenue from wireless-network equipment, the Espoo, Finland-based company is also seeking to make its maps business a stronger competitor against rivals including Google.

“We’re seeing innovation that’s happening across the auto ecosystem through the combination of mobility and the Internet,” Paul Asel, a partner at the Nokia venture-capital arm, said in an interview. “The car is really becoming a platform like when the mobile handset became a smartphone and all the apps and services developed around that.”

Nokia built its location-technologies business by buying Chicago-based map provider Navteq Corp. for $8.1 billion in 2008 and 3-D map-technology maker Earthmine Inc. in 2012. Nokia provides map data to Amazon.com Inc., Microsoft, Yahoo! Inc. and four out of five car-navigation systems, a crucial segment as future connected-device systems use more location data.

Nokia is discussing the new fund today at the Global Mobile Internet Conference in Beijing.

Driverless Cars

Shares of Nokia fell 0.7 percent to 5.30 euros at 10:16 a.m. in Helsinki. The stock has gained 78 percent since Nokia agreed to sell the handset unit to Microsoft in September.

Carmakers are introducing smarter dashboard navigation systems, adding features such as real-time traffic information and automated calls to emergency services in case of accident.

Manufacturers are also gradually adding automated-driving systems that may ultimately lead to self-driving vehicles. Mountain View, California-based Google, operator of the largest Web-search engine, has been testing driverless cars in the U.S.

Toyota Motor Corp. said in October it will introduce systems in about two years that will enable cars to communicate with each other to avoid collisions. Detroit-based General Motors Co. is planning vehicles by 2020 that will be able to drive themselves on controlled-access highways.

‘Global Play’

Musk, who leads Palo Alto, California-based Tesla Motors Inc. (TSLA), said a year ago the electric-car maker is considering adding driverless technology to its vehicles, calling it a logical step in the evolution of cars. Tesla vehicles already include Internet access and connections for services such as roadside assistance and stolen-vehicle location.

“People tend to look at BMW, Tesla and Google, but we think of this as a global play,” Asel said. “There’s also innovation happening from a different perspective in China and India that impacts how this plays out. Some of these car manufacturers may adopt services faster than the established ones to gain a foothold.”

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