A staff member works on a production line at a textile company in Qutang Town of Nantong City, East China’s Jiangsu province, April 16, 2021. [Photo/Xinhua]

The official purchasing managers index for China’s manufacturing sector came in at 51 in May, edging down from 51.1 in April, indicating that the sector has continued to expand, the National Bureau of Statistics said on Monday.

“The PMI reading changed only marginally from April, while condition of the sector has continued to be better than the same period of 2019 and 2020, showing that the manufacturing sector has maintained a steady expansion,” said Zhao Qinghe, a NBS statistician.

The reading stood above the mark of 50, which separates expansion from contraction, as production accelerated while new orders continued to increase, albeit at a slower speed, the bureau said.

Yet manufacturers cut inventories and employment in May, and small manufacturers saw their activities contract, with their PMI dropping to 48.8, compared with 50.8 a month earlier.

China’s nonmanufacturing PMI rose to 55.2 in May, up from 54.9 in April, showing that nonmanufacturing activities have accelerated.

The composite PMI, which covers the manufacturing and nonmanufacturing sectors, went up to 54.2 from April’s 53.8, indicating an overall steady expansion in economic activities, according to the NBS.