Monday, September 2, 2013

China's manufacturing activity strengthened in August to its highest level in 16 months, official figures show, in the latest data to suggest the world's second-largest economy is picking up steam after two quarters of slower growth.

The official purchasing managers' index (PMI) rose to 51.0 last month from 50.3 in July, according to figures released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

The index tracks manufacturing activity in China's factories and workshops and is a closely watched gauge of the health of the economy.

A reading below 50 indicates contraction, while anything above signals expansion.

The August PMI was the best since a reading of 53.3 in April last year, according to previous results.

It also marked the second straight month of strengthening and comes as other recent data has spurred optimism a slowdown in the economy may have been stemmed.

Zhao Qinghe, a statistician with the NBS, said in a report on the bureau's website that the result was the highest this year and "shows that China's manufacturing industry as a force for economic development has strengthened to some extent and makes obvious that a return to corporate stability has quickened further".

In July, generally upbeat economic data, including a jump in industrial production to a five-month high, helped spur optimism that China's economic weakness may have hit bottom.

And British banking giant HSBC said last month that the initial reading of its PMI survey for August came in at 50.1, rebounding from an 11-month low and the first time since April the indicator had expanded.

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