Activity in China’s factories expanded at its fastest pace for eight months in May, official data showed Thursday, as demand at home and overseas improved despite brewing trade tensions with the United States.
The purchasing managers index came in at 51.9, up from 51.4 last month, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said, in line with a Bloomberg News survey.
The reading, the first monthly economic indicator to gauge the world’s second largest economy, was well above the 50-point mark that separates expansion from contraction.
NBS analyst Zhao Qinghe said in a statement that high-tech manufacturing and improved export orders both contributed to the growth.
The May reading marks the fastest rate of expansion since September despite US President Donald Trump’s threats to impose tariffs on China, and Beijing’s vows to hit back.
The rise in new export orders ‘is perhaps due to frontloading by importers in fear of a possible trade war’, Nomura chief China economist Lu Ting said in a research note.
Capital Economics China economist Julian Evans-Pritchard warned that the growth may not be sustainable.
‘It appears to mostly reflect a temporary boost to industrial output from the easing of pollution controls rather than a turnaround in underlying demand,’ he said.
China curbed activity in heavy industries in the country’s northeast during winter months in an effort to reduce surplus capacity and lessen the heavy smog that typically blankets the region.