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Chinese manufacturing activity improves for 2nd straight month

BEIJING -- China's manufacturing activity improved in April, the government said Thursday, showing increased strength for a second straight month as the country's broader economy slows.

The official purchasing managers index (PMI) was 50.4 in April, the National Bureau of Statistics said in a statement, up from 50.3 in March.

The index tracks manufacturing activity in China's factories and workshops and is a closely watched indicator of the health of the economy. A reading above 50 indicates growth.

The result matched the median forecast in a survey of 11 economists by Dow Jones Newswires.

A preliminary estimate published by British bank HSBC put China's PMI at 48.3 in April, better than 48.0 in March. HSBC is scheduled to release its final reading for April on Monday.

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