The Purchasing Managers' Index published by finance giant HSBC pegged manufacturing at 49.5, a marked improvement from 47.9 in September and an eight-month high, MarketWatch reported.
The index indicates business growth with numbers above 50 and contraction with numbers below 50.
An official report published by the National Bureau of Statistics in conjunction with the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing, also released Thursday, estimated the PMI at 50.2, up from 49.8 in September.
MarketWatch said the HSBC index is biased more toward small and medium-sized businesses.
The HSBC new orders index, a component index, came in above 50 for the first time in 2012.
"China's industrial activity continues to bottom out following a modest pick up last month," said HSBC economist Hongbin Qu in a research note.
"This is mainly driven by the increase in new orders, thanks to the filtering-through of the earlier easing measures, while export outlook remains challenging," the note said.