The August reading from the National Bureau of Statistics beat a median forecast of 51.3 from economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal. A subindex measuring total new orders climbed to 53.1 from 52.8 in July, but new export orders dropped to 50.4 in August from 50.9, hurt by the stronger yuan. Robust domestic demand was the main factor boosting the official manufacturing purchasing managers’ index, which rebounded to 51.7 from July’s 51.4. The index has now stayed above the 50 mark, which separates an expansion of activity from a contraction, for 13 months. The yuan has appreciated more than 5% against dollar this year, on its way to erase last year’s decline of more than 6% and squeezing Chinese exporters. The country’s official nonmanufacturing PMI, also released Thursday, fell to 53.4 in August from 54.5 in July.