BEIJING, March 31 (Xinhua) -- China's manufacturing activity maintained expansion for three consecutive months in March, offering fresh evidence of the country's steady economic recovery.
The purchasing managers' index (PMI) for China's manufacturing sector came in at 51.9 in March, down from 52.6 in February, data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed Friday.
A reading above 50 indicates expansion, while a reading below reflects contraction.
The manufacturing PMI continued expansion in March, though at a slower pace due to a high base last month, suggesting a steady recovery of China's economic growth, the bureau's senior statistician Zhao Qinghe said.
The production index and new orders indexes reached 54.6 and 53.6, respectively, well above the boom-and-bust line.
Of 21 surveyed industries, 13 saw stable expansion month on month. High-tech manufacturing, equipment manufacturing, and consumer goods sectors all maintained expansion.
The PMIs for large, medium-sized, and small enterprises stood at 53.6, 50.3, and 50.4, respectively, all in the expansion territory.
Market confidence also improved remarkably. The business outlook index came in at 55.5, with optimism shared by all the surveyed industries.
Wen Tao, an analyst with the China Logistics Information Center, said the sub-index readings indicated that the market demand grew at a stable and faster pace, production activities recovered steadily, and business activities regained momentum.
Since the beginning of the year, the Chinese economy has been recovering at a faster pace, with major economic indicators seeing steady expansion, thanks to government pro-growth measures ranging from expanding domestic demand to modernizing the industrial system and attracting foreign investment.
Despite the recovery in factory activities, Zhao cautioned that some enterprises are still grappling with tight capital and high operating costs, noting that the foundation of the economic recovery needs to consolidate.
Friday's data also showed that China's non-manufacturing activity in March saw the fastest expansion since May 2011, with the PMI for the non-manufacturing sector reaching 58.2.
China's composite PMI edged to 57 in March from 56.4 in February, signaling that overall production by manufacturing and non-manufacturing enterprises continued to warm up.