The Purchasing Managers’ Index (SHCOMP) was 50.9, the National Bureau of Statistics and China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing said today in Beijing, an 11-month high and up from 50.1 in February. A separate gauge from HSBC Holdings Plc and Markit Economics rose to 51.6 in March from 50.4. Readings above 50 indicate expansion.
Gauges of output and export orders advanced in the official survey while an index of input prices declined, a boost for new Premier Li Keqiang as he seeks to spur expansion without fanning inflation. The March improvement follows the weakest January- February growth for factory output since 2009 and Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s questioning of the strength of exports.
“We are clearly in a lot better state than we were at the end of last year,” Alistair Thornton, a Beijing-based economist at researcher IHS Inc., said in a Bloomberg Television interview, terming the momentum “modest.” At the same time, the economy faces “fairly large headwinds” including property curbs and tighter supervision of so-called shadow banking, he said.
The government PMI was lower than the 51.2 median estimate of 26 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News. The HSBC index’s final reading matched the median estimate of 10 analysts. The preliminary level issued March 21 was 51.7.