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Economic Watch: Robust factory, service activities show stable economic fundamentals2019-04-01

BEIJING, March 31 (Xinhua) -- China's factory and service activities both picked up in March, new evidence of stable economic fundamentals amid government measures to spur high-quality growth.

The purchasing managers' index (PMI) for China's manufacturing sector came in at 50.5 in March, up from 49.2 in February, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said Sunday.

A reading above 50 indicates expansion, while a reading below reflects contraction.

NBS senior statistician Zhao Qinghe attributed the monthly increase in the manufacturing PMI to accelerated production activities and improved domestic demand boosted by government supporting policies, including tax and fee cuts.

The sub-index for production, a major factor used in calculating PMI, rose to a six-month high at 52.7 in March, up 3.2 percentage points from February.

The sub-index for new orders went up 1 percentage point from February to 51.6 in March, the highest in half a year, showing growing momentum in market orders.

The PMI for high-tech, equipment and consumer goods manufacturing stood at 52, 51.2 and 51.4, respectively, all above the general manufacturing PMI, showing rising strength of new drivers of growth.

Large companies saw the manufacturing PMI go down 0.4 percentage points to 51.1, whereas the readings for medium-sized and small companies rose 3 and 4 percentage points, respectively.

Wen Tao, an analyst with China Logistics Information Center, said the new data pointed to signs of the country's economic stabilization with positive market sentiment.

Sunday's data also showed the PMI for China's non-manufacturing sector stood at 54.8 in March, up from 54.3 in February.

The service sector recorded stable performance, with the sub-index measuring business activity in the industry standing at 53.6, up from 53.5 in February.

Indices for sectors including railway transport, postal service, telecom, banking and insurance all stood above 57, indicating robust business growth.

The sub-index for new orders in the service sector came in at 51.5, up from 50.5 in February, according to the NBS.

The construction sector recorded faster expansion, with the sub-index measuring business activity in the industry rising 2.5 percentage points to 61.7 in March.

The sub-index for new orders in the construction sector surged to a 15-month high at 57.9, up from 52 in February.

China is trying to shift its economy toward a growth model that draws strength from consumption, services and innovation. The service sector accounted for 52.2 percent of the country's economy last year.

The positive PMI data showed the government's pro-growth measures have taken effect, said Zhang Liqun, a researcher with the Development Research Center of the State Council.

China has implemented a slew of measures to cut the value-added tax (VAT) rates to bolster the real economy, making sure that tax burdens on all industries will only go down, not up.

In 2018, taxes and fees levied on enterprises and individuals were reduced by around 1.3 trillion yuan as a result of multiple preferential tax policies introduced by the government.

The Government Work Report this year set out the plan for large-scale tax cuts, including lowering the VAT rate in manufacturing and other industries from 16 to 13 percent, and the VAT rate in transportation, construction and other industries from 10 to 9 percent.