China's manufacturing activity expanded for a fifth month in December.
The manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) came in at 51.4 in December, lower than 51.7 in November and staying above the 50-point boom-bust line for the fifth straight month, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said in a statement.
This is the second highest monthly reading this year.
Despite the slight decline in December, the latest data reaffirmed the momentum for a stabilizing Chinese economy, said Zhang Liqun, a researcher with the Development Research Center under the State Council.
The sub-index for production registered at 53.3, low than 53.9 in November.
The sub-index for new orders stayed at the same level as the previous month, the highest point this year.
The sub-index for new export and import orders stayed above the boom-bust line of 50 for a second month, the NBS said.
On a quarterly basis, manufacturing PMI had been rising steadily, from the first quarter's lower than 50 to the second and third quarters' slightly above 50, and to over 51 for the fourth quarter.
The PMI for the whole year averaged at 50.3, compared to 49.9 for 2015.
Chen Zhongtao, analyst at the China Logistics Information Center, said positive factors had added up in China's economic activity, including increasing demand, rising prices, better performance for companies, restructuring and a good job market.
China's non-manufacturing activity also expanded at a fast pace in December, second only to November this year.