HONG KONG (AP) -- Chinese manufacturing rebounded modestly in March after dipping during the country's biggest public holiday the month before, a survey on Thursday showed, in a sign of gradual recovery in the world's second biggest economy.
HSBC's preliminary version of its purchasing managers' index for March rose to 51.7 on a 100-point scale. A reading above 50 indicates expansion.
The reading fell to 50.4 in February, when businesses closed for up to two weeks for the Lunar New Year holiday. The survey found that production and new orders in March grew at a faster pace.
The reading "implies that the Chinese economy is still on track for gradual growth recovery," HSBC's Chief China Economist Qu Hongbin said in a statement.
China's economy bounced back with 7.9 percent growth in the final quarter of 2012 after the deepest slowdown since the 2008 global crisis. But analysts warn a recovery will be weak and gradual, with growth vulnerable if trade or investment weakens.
The survey results are based on 80-90 percent of responses by purchasing executives at more than 420 manufacturers. The full version is usually released at the start of the following month.