China manufacturing index hits 18-month high: Govt

BEIJING (AFP) - China's manufacturing activity expanded at its strongest pace in 18 months in October, the government announced on Friday, another sign of increasing strength in the world's second-largest economy.

The official purchasing managers' index (PMI) advanced to 51.4 last month from 51.1 in September, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said on its website.

The index - which measures manufacturing activity in Chinese factories and workshops - is a widely observed monitor of the country's economic health. A reading above 50 indicates expansion while anything below signals contraction.

China's economic growth in the third quarter of this year accelerated to 7.8 percent year-on-year, snapping two quarters of slowing expansion, according to official data released last month.

"China's official PMI rose to 51.4 in October, surprising slightly on the upside, suggesting that the economy is still in an expansion mode," ANZ bank economists Liu Li-Gang and Zhou Hao said in a report after the release.

The announcement came just ahead of the scheduled release on Friday by British bank HSBC of a closely watched private survey of PMI activity.

Its preliminary result last week showed that October PMI hit 50.9, its strongest pace in seven months and a significant improvement from September's 50.2. It was the highest since 51.6 in March.

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