Activity in Chinese manufacturing sped up recently, as the government’s official purchasing managers’ index, or PMI, for the sector rose to 51.0 percent in August from 50.3 percent in July, according to the National Bureau of Statistics of China. The latest NBS figure for the manufacturing sector of the world’s second-largest economy came in above the median forecast of 50.6 percent by 12 economists polled by Reuters. The PMI report was released in Beijing Sunday at 9 a.m. CST (Saturday at 9 p.m. EDT).

China’s official manufacturing PMI has ranged tightly this year between a high level of 51.0 percent in August and a low level of 50.1 percent in both February and June. A reading above 50 percent indicates the sector is expanding, while a reading below 50 percent suggests the sector is contracting.

Comparing China’s official manufacturing PMI for the first eight months in 2013 with the PMI for the same period in 2012 shows its monthly mean has fallen from 50.98 percent last year to 50.53 percent this year and its monthly median has risen from 50.45 percent to 50.50 percent on the same basis. During the period last year, the PMI ranged between a high level of 53.3 percent in April and a low level of 49.2 percent in August.

More color on the sector is expected when the HSBC China Manufacturing PMI compiled by Markit is released Monday at 9:45 a.m. CST (Sunday at 9:45 p.m. EDT). The competing PMI reports for May, June and July painted different pictures of the Chinese manufacturing sector, with the HSBC-Markit report showing contraction and the NBS report showing expansion. The HSBC-Markit report is based on a survey of more than 420 purchasing managers, and the NBS report is based on a survey of about 800 purchasing managers.