By Chen Jia
BEIJING, Oct. 2 (Xinhuanet) -- Manufacturing production continued to pick up for the third consecutive month in September, driven by the expansion of new orders and exports, sending positive signals for overall economic growth in the third quarter.
The National Bureau of Statistics and the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing reported on Tuesday that the manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index climbed to 51.1 in September from 51.0 in August, the highest since May 2012.
The sub-index indicated that new orders rose to 52.8 from 52.4 in August, and export orders increased to 50.7 from 50.2, according to the official figures.
If the reading is above 50 it signals expansion in the manufacturing sector, while below 50 shows contraction.
"The PMI figure in September indicates a steady growth of China's manufacturing economy amid strengthened entrepreneurs' confidence and social expectation," said Zhao Qinghe, a senior economist at the NBS.
Positive factors for the whole economy have been accumulating since the second quarter, supported by a series of economic policies targeting long-term growth stabilization, economists said.
"Manufacturing enterprises are expanding production by increasing raw material purchases, which has lifted commodity prices," Zhao said.
However, the September PMI showed a contrary situation between small and bigger manufacturing firms. For the small-scale business, the PMI was 48.8, down from 49.2 in August, which showed a more serious contraction.
Nevertheless, the PMI for large companies increased to 52.1 from 51.8.
Zhang Liqun, an analyst with the Development Research Center of the State Council, said that "although the September PMI maintained expansion, the growth margin has narrowed considerably, indicating that the rising momentum for the overall economy is not strong enough".
Future economic growth will be stable without an obvious rebound, Zhang said.
"Entrepreneurs showed their cautious expectations of the future market," he added.