The Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) of China's manufacturing sector rose for the fifth straight month in April to 53.5 percent, up 1.1 percentage points from a month earlier, the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing (CFLP) said Friday.
It was the second consecutive month the PMI rebounded above 50 percent since July 2008, when the index fell to 48.4 percent.
A reading of above 50 suggests expansion, while one below 50 indicates contraction.
The PMI includes a package of indices that measure economic performance. The survey, jointly conducted by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), covers purchasing and supply managers of more than 700 manufacturers across China.
All the April indices, except those measuring finished product inventory, raw materials inventory and suppliers' delivery time, rose with most up by less than 2 percentage points.
Indices measuring output and new orders rose by 0.5 and 2.0 percentage points to remain above 50 percent for a third straight month.
The purchasing price index was up 3.0 percentage points to 51.3 percent, rebounding to above 50 percent for the first time since September last year.
The employment index rose 1.7 percentage points to 50.3 percent, the first time it rebounded to above 50 percent since October last year.
"The continuous rebound of the PMI shows Chinese economy is on track for recovery. The first-quarter investment, consumption and export figures also reflected this trend." said Zhang Liqun, a researcher with the Development Research Center of the State Council.
The PMI is the first economic indicator for April, offering a glimpse of the country's economic outlook. Some Q1 and March statistics indicated that government stimulus measures had produced positive results, although economic growth slowed to a 10-year low in the first quarter.
First-quarter industrial output grew 5.1 percent year on year with a rise of 8.3 percent in March alone. Fixed-asset investment rose 28.8 percent in nominal terms to 2.81 trillion yuan ($413 billion). In real terms, fixed-asset investment rose more than 30 percent.
Retail sales also grew 15 percent to 2.94 trillion yuan.
Since late last year, China has taken steps to ease the domestic impact of the global downturn. These included a 4-trillion-yuan economic stimulus package, a plan to expand rural home appliance purchases and support plans for key industries.
The People's Bank of China, the central bank, has cut interest rates five times and reduced banks' required reserve ratio four times since September.