HSBC's preliminary China purchasing manager's index showed an increase in January, a sign that the nation's manufacturing activity is accelerating, The Wall Street Journal reported. The initial reading on HSBC's China Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index - a barometer of the country's manufacturing activity - increased to a two-year high of 51.9 in January, an increase of 0.4 from December, HSBC Holdings (HBC.NYSE, HSBA.LON, 0005.HKG, HSB.EPA) said on Thursday. A level over 50 shows expansion. The index has been over 50 for three months in a row. "The general feeling at the moment is that growth is picking up - we should see good growth at least in the first two quarters," said Li Wei, an economist at Standard Chartered (STAN.LON, STAC.LON, 2888.HKG). However, exports looked less rosy as a subindex reading in the survey showed exports only just starting to grow, with a figure of 50.1, in contrast to 49.2 in December.