HSBC has ended its marketing tie-up with financial information firm Markit, both companies told Reuters today. 

The announcement winds down a five-year relationship that some industry insiders said may have become too expensive and a potential political liability for HSBC in China. 

Markit and HSBC spokespersons said that HSBC had ended its sponsorship of the closely watched China Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) and of other emerging markets indexes compiled by Markit. 

Both companies described the co-operation as a success and neither gave a specific reason for the windup of the arrangement. 

"The sponsorship arrangement is now coming to an end and we will announce replacement sponsors soon," said Laura Davis, a Singapore-based spokeswoman for Markit in an email statement. 

Market insiders have been talking about the coming end of the partnership for months.

Some speculated that HSBC was ending its sponsorship of the indicator because of pressure from Beijing, or because the sponsorship costs had become too expensive, or both. 

HSBC announced earlier in June that it would eliminate 50,000 jobs, slashing its headcount by nearly a fifth, in order to combat sluggish growth. The bank produces its own branded research reports on economic trends around the world.

HSBC is not only winding up its sponsorship of the China PMI indicator, but also of all the other Markit indexes that cover other countries.

This implies that other factors were also at play, in particular the cost of sponsoring an index that has become one of the most closely economic indicators in the world as China struggles to get its slowing economy back on track. 

Multiple banking sources said that Markit had been seeking other sponsors around Asia to replace HSBC, but many believed the price tag was too high, especially given the political sensitivity of being associated with an indicator that frequently contradicts the official manufacturing PMI.

However, while the results were different, so was the survey pool.

The HSBC/Markit report tended to focus on smaller and mid-sized companies, while the official survey reflected activity at larger, often state-owned firms.