Growth in China's factory activity was steady last month while the services industry rebounded, according to data released Wednesday that signal the recovery in the world's No. 2 economy is holding up.
The manufacturing purchasing' managers index, or PMI, came in at 51.2 for May, unchanged from the previous month, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.
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The index, which uses a 100-point scale with 50 dividing contraction from expansion, is widely watched as an early indicator of the state of China's economy. It's the 10th straight month of expansion for the sprawling manufacturing sector, which is a major part of China's wider economy and employs many millions of workers.
The survey of 3,000 manufacturers found that export orders crept higher while overall new orders were unchanged, suggesting that a pickup in global demand rather than domestic demand helped shore up the index. Factories also reported that output slipped while employment rose.
Meanwhile, the official non-manufacturing PMI rebounded to 54.5 after falling to a six-month low of 54.0 previously, indicating renewed strength in China's service sector.
China's economic growth fell last year to its slowest pace in nearly three decades. It ticked higher to 6.9 percent in the latest quarter thanks to government spending and a credit-fueled real estate boom. Growth is expected to slow again in further quarters as the government targets 6.5 percent expansion for the full year.
Last week, the Moody's ratings agency cut China's credit rating by a notch because of surging debt, underscoring the challenges communist leaders face as they overhaul the slowing economy.