The purchasing managers’ index (PMI) for China’s manufacturing sector came in at 50.2 in February, up from 50.1 in January, data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed.
A reading above 50 indicates expansion, while a reading below reflects contraction.
“With rising demand and sound market expectations, business performance improved in February,” said NBS senior statistician Zhao Qinghe.
“The PMI data came in better than expected, indicating that the policies to stabilise growth are paying off and demand is showing signs of expansion,” said Wen Bin, the chief analyst at China Minsheng Bank.
Last month, the sub-index measuring purchase prices of major raw materials rose 3.6 percentage points to 60 while the sub-index for prices at the factory gate was 54.1, up 3.2 percentage points from January.
The sub-index for production however reached 50.4, down 0.5 percentage points from a month ago but has remained in the expansion area for four consecutive months, for new order the sub-index rose 1.4 percentage points to 50.7, pointing to rising demand in the manufacturing market.
China adds that the manufacturing companies’ confidence was also on the rise, with the sub-index for production and operation activity expectations at 58.7, up 1.2 percentage points from January.
The PMI for high-tech manufacturing and equipment manufacturing were 53.1 and 51.4, respectively, 1.2 and 1.1 percentage points higher than the previous month. The two indices have been in the expansion range since March 2020, indicating that new growth drivers are continuing to gain momentum.
Despite an improvement in the performance of the manufacturing industry, there still are problems restraining the sector, such as high costs of labor and raw materials as well as lack of funds, Zhao said.
“The country still needs to “push forward the implementation of policies to help manufacturing enterprises ease difficulties, and to buoy their steady growth,”
Data also showed that the PMI for China’s non-manufacturing sector came in at 51.6 in February, up from 51.1 in January.
Chinese authorities have underscored “triple pressure” on the economy currently — shrinking demand, supply shocks, and weakening expectations.