China’s factory activity returns to expansion

China’s manufacturing activities expanded for the first time in six months in March, an official survey showed on Sunday, adding to a run of indicators pointing to the stabilization of the world’s second-largest economy.

China’s official purchasing managers index for the manufacturing sector rose to 50.8 in March from 49.1 in February, according to the National Bureau of Statistics, above the 50-point mark that separates growth from contraction.

Zhao Qinghe, an NBS statistician, said the manufacturing PMI improved in March as manufacturers accelerated their resumption of work and production after the Spring Festival holiday. “The level of economic prosperity in China is rebounding.”

The sub-index for production rose to 52.2 in March from 49.8 in February, while the gauge for new orders came in at 53 in March, up from 49 in February, the NBS said.

NBS data showed manufacturers expressed strong optimism and confidence with the gauge for manufacturers’ expectations for their production and operation improving to 55.6 in March from 54.2 in February.

China’s non-manufacturing PMI, which incorporates sub-indexes for service sector activity and construction, also rose, coming in at 53 in March versus February’s 51.4.

The country’s official composite PMI, which includes both manufacturing and non-manufacturing activities, climbed to 52.7 in March from 50.9 in February, according to the NBS.

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