China's official Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI), which measures the vitality at the manufacturing sector, came in at 51.8 in March, the highest in almost five years, according to the data released by the National Bureau of Statistics today.
The services sector accounted for over half of China's economy previous year and for the majority of its 6.7 percent growth as rising wages give Chinese consumers the opportunity to shop, travel and eat out more.
The manufacturing purchasing managers index increased to 51.8 in March, compared with economist estimates that it would match the November reading of 51.7.
"The manufacturing sector continued to maintain a steady trend", NBS analyst Zhao Qinghe said in a note, adding that a pickup both in production and in demand drove the results.
The Chinese Federation of Logistics and Purchasing's index is based on a 100-point scale, with numbers above 50 indicating expansion. In April 2012, it reached 53.3.
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Total new orders also showed improvement, rising to 53.3 from February's 53.
The services sector accounted for over half of China's economy past year and for the majority of its 6.7 percent growth as rising wages give Chinese consumers the opportunity to shop, travel and eat out more.
China's PMI is widely watched because it provides one of the earliest insights into the state of the economy.
A renaissance in China's steel industry has been a major driver of the world's second-largest economy in recent quarters, helping generate the strongest profit growth in years.
Beijing has said it wants to reorient the economy away from relying on debt-fuelled investment and towards a consumer-driven model, but the transition has proven challenging, leading to the slower growth readings in recent years.