China's manufacturing activity slightly grew in April, official data showed Thursday. The National Bureau of Statistics and the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing said the Purchasing Managers Index (PMI), a gauge of nationwide manufacturing activity of the world's second-biggest economy, rose to 50.4 percent on a 100-point scale. The index edged up for the second month in a row from March's reading of 50.3 percent. A PMI reading above 50 percent indicates growth from the previous month, while a reading below 50 represents contraction in China's manufacturing sector. The index is a closely watched barometer of the health of the Chinese economy. Thursday's data came after China's economic growth slowed to a six-quarter low of 7.4 percent in the first quarter of 2014. But growth is within range, as the government set an expansion target for this year at around 7.5 percent. On April 25, China's top leaders said the country's economic growth in the first quarter was within a proper range, so the government will maintain continuity and stability of its macroeconomic policies, according to the official Xinhua News Agency. "Since the beginning of the year, the country has faced challenges and difficulties head on but the economy has generally had a good start," said a statement released after a meeting of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee. "The economic situation was generally in line with the government's macroeconomic regulation and development outlook," the statement said.