China's manufacturing sector expands for third straight month

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An employee works at a smart production facility in Tianjin in June. [Photo/Xinhua]

China's manufacturing sector expanded for the third straight month in March while non-manufacturing activity grew at the fastest pace in recent years, data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed on Friday.

The official purchasing managers index for China's manufacturing sector stood at 51.9 in March, down from 52.6 in February but still marking the second-highest level in almost two years, the NBS said.

The PMI reading has stayed above the 50-point mark that separates growth from contraction for the third month in a row.

Despite a slowdown compared with February, production and market orders of the manufacturing sector continued to expand rapidly this month, said Zhao Qinghe, a senior NBS statistician, adding that the sub-index gauging enterprises' purchasing activity stood at 53.5 in March, the highest reading in more than two years.

China's non-manufacturing PMI came in at 58.2 in March, up from 56.3 a month earlier, marking the highest level in recent years. Also, the country's official composite PMI, which includes both manufacturing and non-manufacturing activities, came in at 57 compared with 56.4 in February, according to the NBS.

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