In this undated photo, an employee works on the production line of an engineering equipment manufacturer in Yantai, Shandong province. (TANG KE / FOR CHINA DAILY)

BEIJING – China's manufacturing sector, shaking off pandemic disruptions seen in the second quarter, has started to regain its momentum, offering strong impetus to the sustained recovery of the broader economy.

The purchasing managers' index (PMI) for the manufacturing sector rebounded from 49 in July to 49.4 this month, data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed Wednesday. Of 21 surveyed industries, 12 reported rising PMIs, indicating an improved business climate for the majority of manufacturers.

Some major industries kept expanding. The index of consumer goods production rose from 51.4 to 52.3 in August, and that of the equipment and high-tech manufacturing sectors stood at 50.9 and 50.6, respectively

Some major industries kept expanding. The index of consumer goods production rose from 51.4 to 52.3 in August, and that of the equipment and high-tech manufacturing sectors stood at 50.9 and 50.6, respectively.

A reading above 50 indicates expansion, while a reading below 50 reflects contraction.

"Despite the impact of COVID-19 and heatwaves, the Chinese economy has continued its recovery," NBS senior statistician Zhao Qinghe said Wednesday.

In recent months, signs of warming were spotted in factory activities across the country. Carmakers posted surging production and profits, and high-tech manufacturers registered vibrant expansion. Industrial and supply chains, hit hard during the epidemic outbreaks, have recovered and emerged stronger.

Wang Hanchao, founder of a power battery management system producer, said the company's three assembly lines were almost operating at full capacity and he expected that business revenue this year would be double that of 2021.

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"The new energy vehicle sector has a promising prospect and China is taking the lead in the related industrial chains, which adds certainty to business development in the future," Wang said.

With the stable performance in key manufacturing sectors, the economy held steady despite challenges and is expected to gather more steam during the rest of the year, analysts said.

Although economic indicators are encouraging, more efforts are still required to reinforce the growth momentum.

Wednesday's data showed that the sub-indices of the PMI measuring new orders, raw material stock, and employment, rose in August from a month ago. But the production sub-index remained flat, and that for suppliers' delivery time edged down.

While large enterprises returned to expansion territory this month, medium-sized manufacturers improved but remained in contraction and small firms continued to see relatively high operational pressure.

To consolidate the recovery trend, China recently implemented a flurry of more decisive, supportive measures.

In a meeting last week, the State Council announced 19 follow-up measures to shape greater synergy among the pro-growth policies already in place, covering fiscal, financial, industrial and other fields. Financial support has been tilted for infrastructure and major projects, and actual borrowing costs will be further reduced for the real economy.

The goal is to promote economic stabilization and upturn, keep major economic indicators within the proper range, and work for the best results possible, according to the meeting. 

Non-manufacturing PMI down

Meanwhile, the PMI for China's non-manufacturing sector came in at 52.6 in August, down from 53.8 in July, the NBS added.

The sub-index for business activities in the construction industry stood at 56.5, down 2.7 percentage points from last month, but still remains in a relatively high expansion zone.

The construction sector maintained steady expansion in August. Relevant sub-indices indicated rapid progress of infrastructure construction projects, growth of market demand and enterprises' positive expectations for the near future, Zhao said.

The service sector reported a slower recovery in August due to factors including the epidemic and high temperatures. The sub-index for business activities declined 0.9 percentage points from last month to 51.9, NBS data showed.

The sub-index for business activities was over 55 in the fields of accommodation and catering, monetary and financial services as well as telecommunications, radio, television and satellite transmission services, while the sub-index for real estate, leasing and business services and residential services was in the contraction zone.

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The index measuring expectations for business activities of the non-manufacturing sector came in at 58.4 in August, reflecting enterprises' optimism about market recovery in the near future, said the NBS.

Construction companies were specially optimistic about the future development, with the sub-index for business expectations hitting 62.9 in August, up 1.9 percentage points from one month ago.

In the service sector, the sub-index for business expectations of companies in the fields of retail, railway transportation, postal services, Internet software and information technology services as well as money and financial services also topped 60, the data showed.