Manufacturing activity improved in China in March, separate surveys showed Friday, helping ease concerns over the health of the world's second-largest economy.
China's official manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) came in at 50.2 for March, above a forecast of 49.3 from a Reuters poll, returning to growth for the first time since July. That compares with 49.0 in February, which was the lowest reading since 2011.
China's official services PMI rose to 53.8 in March from 52.7 in February.
Levels below 50 signal contraction, while levels above indicate growth.
A similar improvement was seen in the Caixin manufacturing PMI for March, which rose to 49.7 from 48.0 in February, marking the first increase from the previous month in a year.
The Caixin survey focuses on smaller and medium-sized enterprises, while the official data target larger companies.
"All categories of the index showed improvement over the previous month," He Fan, chief economist at Caixin Insight Group, said in the data release.
"The output and new order categories rose above the neutral 50-point level, indicating that the stimulus policies the government has implemented have begun to take hold," he said.
But he added that the government needed to continue the stimulus to reinforce market confidence.
Signs of improvement in the official survey came as concerns over slowing economic growth had depressed market sentiment.
Richard Jerram, chief economist at the Bank of Singapore, said the growth in the official PMI was a surprise, while the improvement in the services index was also "quite impressive."
"It looks to be too big an improvement to be random noise. Some of the policy easing is getting a bit of traction. That's the most realistic interpretation," he said.
In a note Friday, economists at ANZ attributed the surprising strength to an acceleration of infrastructure spending and a recent pick up in electronic supply chains, noting the steel industry PMI also rose to 49.7 from 49.0 in February.
Semiconductor and ICT, or information and communication technology, exports also picked up, ANZ said.