(Adds analyst comment, official PMI reading)
* June factory activity strongest since Nov 2013-HSBC PMI
* Overall new orders at 15-month high, export orders dip
* Official PMI at six-month high
* Adds to signs economy stabilising as policy support kicks in
BEIJING, July 1 (Reuters) - Activity in China’s factory sector expanded in June for the first time in six months as new orders jumped, a private survey showed on Tuesday, reinforcing signs of stabilisation in the economy as the government steps up policy support.
The final reading of the HSBC/Markit purchasing managers’ index (PMI) for June rose to 50.7 from May’s 49.4, surging past the 50-point level that separates growth in activity from contraction for the first time since December.
The PMI was slightly weaker than the flash reading of 50.8, but was the highest since November, when it was also 50.8.
The sub-index for new orders, a gauge of demand at home and abroad, hit a 15-month high of 51.8 in June. Stronger domestic demand likely accounted for the jump, as the sub-index for new export orders fell.
“The economy continues to show more signs of recovery, and this momentum will likely continue over the next few months, supported by stronger infrastructure investments,” said Qu Hongbin, chief economist for China at HSBC.
“However, there are still downside risks from a slowdown in the property market, which will continue to put pressure on growth in the second half of the year. We expect both fiscal and monetary policy to remain accommodative until the recovery is sustained.”
Asian shares firmed slightly on the factory activity report.
Beijing has unveiled a series of modest stimulus measures in recent months to give a lift to economic growth, which dipped to a 18-month low in the first quarter.
Such measures have included targeted reserve requirement cuts for some banks to encourage more lending, quicker fiscal disbursements and hastening construction of railways and public housing projects.
But the recovery looks patchy given a downturn in the property sector, which could spill-over into a wide range of industries, analysts say.
The HSBC/Markit survey also showed manuafacturing-sector jobs were still being shed in June, albeit at a slower pace.
The official manufacturing PMI rose to a six-month high of 51 in June from May’s 50.8, the National Bureau of Statistics said earlier on Tuesday, in line with market expectations.
The official PMI is weighted more towards bigger and state-owned enterprises and tends to paint a rosier picture than the HSBC/Markit survey, which focuses more on smaller private firms.
A recent Reuters poll shows analysts expect annual GDP growth to slow to 7.3 percent in the second quarter from an 18-month low of 7.4 percent in the first quarter. They expect full-year growth of 7.3 percent in 2014, the weakest in 24 years.
The statistical bureau is due to release data on GDP growth for the second quarter on July 16, long with factory output, retail sales and investment figures.
Reporting by Kevin Yao; Editing by Kim Coghill