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Dow Jones Newswires: China’s factory activity expands in March, but at a slower pace

China’s factory activity expanded at a slower pace in March while activity in the nation’s service and construction sectors rebounded more strongly in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to official gauges released Friday.

The official manufacturing purchasing managers’ index declined to 51.9 in March from 52.6 in February, said the National Bureau of Statistics on Friday. The result beat the 51.3 forecast from a Wall Street Journal poll of economists.

Despite the decline, the index stayed in expansionary territory for the third straight month after Beijing removed its Covid restrictions at the end of last year. A reading above the 50 mark suggests an increase in activity while a reading below 50 suggests a contraction.

The subindex for production fell to 54.6 in March from 56.7 in February, staying in the expansionary territory for two months in a row. Total new orders dropped to 53.6 from 54.1 in February, while new export orders declined to 50.4 in March from 52.4.

The official nonmanufacturing PMI, which includes both service and construction activity, increased to 58.2 in March from 56.3 in February, said the statistics bureau.

The subindex tracking service activity rose to 56.9 in March from 55.6 in February. The construction subindex surged to 65.5 in March, compared with 60.2 in February.

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