China manufacturing expands in March

Chinese factory activity accelerated in March 2017, a sign of stability in the world's second largest economy

Chinese factory activity accelerated in March, official data showed on Friday, a sign of stability in the world's second largest economy.

The official purchasing managers' index (PMI), which gauges conditions at factories and mines, came in at 51.8 in March, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said, slightly beating the 51.7 forecast in a Bloomberg News survey and up from the previous month's 51.6.

A figure above 50 indicates growth while anything below points to contraction.

"The manufacturing sector continued to maintain a steady trend," NBS analyst Zhao Qinghe said in a note, adding that a pickup both in production and in demand drove the results.

"High-tech manufacturing continued rapid expansion, and part of traditional industry production and management conditions continue to improve."

The figures come days before a meeting between US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago, Florida, when trade and economic issues are expected to dominate the conversation.

On Thursday, Trump predicted on Twitter the meeting would be "very difficult", adding: "We can no longer have massive trade deficits... and job losses. American companies must be prepared to look at other alternatives."