BEIJING (REUTERS) – China’s factory activity expanded at a slower-than-expected pace in April, although strong demand for manufacturing helped sustain growth in the sector.

The official manufacturing Purchasing Manager’s Index (PMI) fell to 51.1 in April from 51.9 in March, data from the national Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed on Friday (April 30), remaining above the 50-point mark that separates growth from contraction.

Analysts had expected it to dip slightly to 51.7.

China’s economic recovery quickened in the first quarter rebounding at a record 18.3 per cent from last year’s coronavirus-triggered slump, bolstering confidence growth could hit 8.6 per cent for the full year.

China’s policymakers have signalled they are keen to avoid sudden policy changes that could derail the recovery.