By Jonathan Davies

Factory activity in China returned to growth in March, surprising most analysts.

The official Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) recorded a score of 50.1 in March, up from 49.9 in February and forecasts of 49.7.

Any figure above 50 indicates growth, so both February and March's results show only the smallest of marginal contraction and growth.

But a similar, closely watched, survey carried out by HSBC and Markit, showed that activity did in fact fall in March. HSBC and Markit's PMI came in at 49.6, showing a slight contraction, although it was up slightly from its earlier estimate of 49.2.

Despite the differences in the two surveys, making economic experts in the region suggested that they both show continued weakness in the Chinese economy.

Having been one of the fastest growing economies in recent history, China's economic growth is expected to fall to 7% this year.