China’s manufacturing sector expanded for the third consecutive month in March, according to data released by the National Bureau of Statistics on Friday. The official purchasing managers index (PMI) for China’s manufacturing sector remained above the 50-point mark that separates growth from contraction for the third month in a row, standing at 51.9 in March, although it was slightly down from February’s reading of 52.6. Despite the slowdown, production and market orders of the manufacturing sector continued to expand rapidly this month, according to Zhao Qinghe, a senior NBS statistician, who also noted that the sub-index gauging enterprises’ purchasing activity stood at 53.5 in March, the highest reading in over two years.
In addition, China’s non-manufacturing PMI increased to 58.2 in March, up from 56.3 in February, marking the highest level in recent years. The country’s official composite PMI, including both manufacturing and non-manufacturing activities, also showed growth, coming in at 57 compared to 56.4 in February.
The sustained growth of China’s manufacturing sector and the rapid expansion of non-manufacturing activity are positive signs for the country’s economic recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic. China’s early containment of the virus and the government’s stimulus measures have played a significant role in supporting the country’s economic growth. However, challenges remain, such as rising commodity prices and supply chain disruptions.
Moreover, concerns over the possibility of another wave of COVID-19 infections and the slowing global economic recovery are also factors that could affect China’s economic performance. Nevertheless, the strong PMI readings for March indicate that the country’s economy is on a solid path to recovery, and provide reason for cautious optimism for the future.