Workers assemble cars on the production line at Beijing Hyundai Motor's plant in Beijing. The official purchasing managers' index for China's manufacturing sector surged to a 16-month high in August, underpinning growth hopes for the economy. Photo: Bloomberg

Beijing - A Chinese manufacturing index rose to its highest level in 16 months last month as new orders jumped, adding to evidence that growth in the second-largest economy is strengthening after a two-quarter slowdown.

The purchasing managers’ index (PMI) was at 51.0, the National Bureau of Statistics and China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing said yesterday.

That compared with the 50.6 median estimate of 31 analysts in a Bloomberg News survey and July’s 50.3 level. Readings above 50 indicate expansion.

The report bolsters confidence that the economy is responding to Premier Li Keqiang’s policies to support growth amid a crackdown on shadow banking aimed at curbing financial risks.

Yesterday JPMorgan Chase joined Deutsche Bank and Credit Suisse in raising estimates for an increase in gross domestic product, citing strength in infrastructure and property, and a pick-up in overseas demand.

“The recovery is being driven primarily by domestic demand but international demand is picking up too as we can see from the jump in new export orders,” said Lu Ting, head of Greater China economics at Bank of America in Hong Kong. “This will surely boost markets’ confidence in China’s recovery amid the turmoil in some emerging markets.”

The Shanghai composite index rose 2 percent last week, the biggest gain since March. The yuan completed its second consecutive monthly advance last month on optimism the economy is picking up.

Estimates for last month’s PMI reading in the Bloomberg survey ranged from 50.4 to 52. The improvement follows the preliminary reading on August 22 of a manufacturing index from HSBC Holdings and Markit Economics that showed the first expansion since April. The 2.4-point jump in the HSBC gauge to 50.1, if confirmed in the final report today, will be the biggest gain since August 2010.

JPMorgan raised its estimate for China’s third-quarter economic growth to 7.6 percent from 7.4 percent and its projection for the final three months of the year to 7.5 percent from 7 percent.

Its Hong Kong-based chief China economist, Zhu Haibin, said: “Economic conditions are improving and the downside risk to economic growth has been mitigated in the near term.” Zhu cited support from rapid credit growth earlier in the year, a shift in the government’s policy stance including support for infrastructure investment and a pickup in growth momentum in the global economy.

China’s GDP growth slowed to 7.5 percent in the second quarter from a year earlier, extending the longest streak of sub-8 percent expansion in at least two decadest. - Bloomberg