China’s manufacturing sector saw activity climb to the highest level since 2012 in March as an official gauge showed factories ceased shedding jobs for the first time in nearly five years and a previously severe contraction at smaller enterprises softened markedly. The Financial Times reports the official purchasing managers’ index for China’s manufacturing sector came in at 51.8 in March according to the National Bureau of Statistics, notching a slight rise from 51.6 in February and climbing further above the 50-point mark separating growth from contraction. A gauge of employment trends held the most positive news for the sector as it hit the 50-point mark, indicating neither expansion nor contraction. That marked the first time the manufacturing sector reported having not shed jobs on a monthly basis since May 2012.
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