, BEIJING, August 1 – Chinese manufacturing activity increased sharply in July, rising at its fastest pace in more than two years, an official survey showed Friday, as the world’s second-largest economy shows signs of increasing momentum.
The official purchasing managers index (PMI) hit 51.7 last month, the National Bureau of Statistics said in a statement.
The figure was up from 51.0 in June, and the best since 53.3 in April 2012.
It was also above the median 51.4 forecast in a survey of nine economists by The Wall Street Journal.
The index tracks manufacturing activity in China’s factories and workshops and is a closely watched indicator of the health of the economy. A reading above 50 indicates growth, while anything below points to contraction.
China’s official PMI data came after British bank HSBC last week announced a jump in its survey to a preliminary reading of 52.0 for July, its highest since January 2013.
The final figures are due out Friday.
Chinese economic growth accelerated to a higher than expected 7.5 percent in the second quarter, up from 7.4 percent in the previous three months, which was the worst since a similar 7.4 percent expansion in July-September 2012.
Chinese authorities have since April introduced a series of measures to bolster growth, including tax breaks for small enterprises, targeted infrastructure outlays and incentives to encourage lending in rural areas and to small companies.
China in March set its annual growth target for this year at about 7.5 percent, the same as last year.