Stronger demand conditions and easing of Covid-19 curbs helped activity in the country’s factory sector to maintain its growth momentum and added to the business confidence in the months ahead, a survey showed on Friday.

Rising from 52.3 in August to 53.7 in September, the IHS Markit India Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) highlighted a stronger expansion in overall business conditions across the sector. For the second quarter of fiscal year 2021-22, the PMI averaged 53.8, a significant improvement from 51.5 in the opening quarter.

With sales rising at a stronger rate, firms scaled up production and purchased additional inputs. There was also a faster upturn in international sales and an improvement in business confidence, the survey showed.

“Indian manufacturers lifted production to a greater extent in September as they geared up for improvements in demand and the replenishment of stocks. There was a substantial pick-up in intakes of new work, with some contribution from international markets,” said Pollyanna De Lima, economics associate director at IHS Markit.

A string of economic indicators over the past few months have pointed to a robust recovery underway after curbs were lifted, following easing of Covid-19 cases and sharp increase in vaccination across the country. Economists expect overall economic growth to be in double digits and closer to the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) forecast of 9.5% growth in the current fiscal year that ends in March.