China's manufacturing sector in September expanded at the fastest pace in more than five years, adding to strong economic resilience against headwinds, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said Saturday.
The country's manufacturing purchasing managers' index (PMI) for this month came in at 52.4, up from 51.7 in August and hitting the highest level since May 2012, according to NBS data.
A reading above 50 indicates expansion, while a reading below reflects contraction.
"The indicator showed a steady upward trend in the manufacturing sector," NBS statistician Zhao Qinghe said, attributing the quickened expansion mainly to improving demand both at home and abroad and booming high-tech industries.
Sub-indices for production and new orders came in at 54.7 and 54.8, respectively, up from 54.1 and 53.1 last month. "It suggested a better supply-demand relationship as orders surpassed production for the first time this year," Zhao said.
Equipment and high-tech manufacturing reported more rapid expansion, with their PMI figures at 53.3 and 52.9. The production of automobiles, electric apparatuses and other electronics saw the biggest increase.
Robust consumption in food, beverage and clothing ahead of an eight-day National Day and Mid Autumn Festival holiday period also contributed to the performance, Zhao said.
However, divergence between industrial giants and small manufacturers increased. While large companies, which registered a reading of 53.8, stayed well above the boom-bust line, small ones were still in contraction territory despite a mild recovery.
Saturday's data also showed that China's non-manufacturing sector grew at the fastest pace since June 2014 in September, with its PMI standing at 55.4, up from 53.4 in August.