China March official manufacturing PMI rises to 51.8, beats forecasts

Workers at the Zhong Tian (Zenith) Steel Group factory in Changzhou, Jiangsu.
Kevin Frayer | Getty Images

Activity in China's manufacturing sector expanded at a faster pace than expected in March, adding to evidence that the world's second-largest economy is gaining momentum early in the year, an official survey showed on Friday.

The official Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) rose to 51.8 in March, compared with the previous month's 51.6.

It was above the 50-point mark that separates growth from contraction on a monthly basis.

Analysts polled by Reuters had predicted a reading of 51.6, pointing to a solid expansion as China's industrial sector continued to benefit from higher prices and a recovery in demand fueled by a construction boom.