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China manufacturing up first time in six months

An upbeat market report from China has suggested the world's second-largest economy may be picking up after a period of slumped growth, as China's factory sector registered its first expansion of in six months.

China's manufacturing activity picked up in June for the first time in half a year as new orders boomed, signaling a stabilizing economy on the heels of Beijing's mini-stimulus, a preliminary market survey showed Monday.

The HSBC/Markit Flash China Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index, a closely monitored barometer of the state of the world's number two economy, rose more than expected to 50.8 this month, the highest it has been since last November when it reached the same level.

The index tracks activity in China's workshops and factories and this month's figures marked the first time since December that manufacturing activity had grown rather than contracted.

"This month's improvement is consistent with data suggesting that the authorities' mini-stimulus are filtering through to the real economy," HSBC's chief economist for China Qu Hongbin said in a statement.

The Chinese government has implemented a number of expansionary measures since April aimed at boosting growth in the face of a cooling housing market and stubbornly weak exports.

Those measures have included tax breaks for small businesses, investment in infrastructure and incentives to encourage lending. But Beijing has ruled out the kind of sweeping stimulus seen during the global financial crisis.

cjc/uhe (AFP, Reuters)

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