China's official manufacturing Purchasing Manager's Index (PMI) in March reached 50.5, rising 1.3 percentage points compared to the previous month, according to official data released Sunday.
A PMI above 50 indicates economic expansion, while a number below the mark indicates contraction.
The manufacturing PMI in March rebounded above 50 after staying below the boom-bust line for three months, Zhao Qinghe, a senior statistician from China's National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said.
The pick-up in manufacturing expansion came as factories resumed production after the Spring Festival holiday with sub-indices for production and new orders both peaking their six-month high, edging up 3.2 percentage points to 52.7 and 1.0 percentage point to 51.6, respectively, in March, according to the NBS.
PMI for sectors of high-tech manufacturing, equipment manufacturing and consumer goods manufacturing stood at 52.0, 51.2 and 51.4, respectively, higher than the overall manufacturing PMI level in March, indicating fast progress in new growth engines.
Companies were more willing to buy, as the sub-index for purchase volume in March surged to 51.2 from 48.3 in February, data showed.
Since the global economy has continued to see a recovery with a slowing pace, the sub-index for imports and new export orders saw a month-on-month increase to 48.7 and 47.1, respectively, still below the mark.
The manufacturing PMI of large companies reached 51.1, down 0.4 percentage points compared to the previous month, while that of small and medium-sized companies came in at 49.3 and 49.9, respectively, Zhao added.
Meanwhile, China's non-manufacturing PMI read 54.8 this month, up from 54.3 in February.
The composite PMI, which covers both manufacturing and services activity, rose up 1.6 percentage points to 54 in March, showing a faster expansion in companies' business operation.