China's official manufacturing PMI fell to 51 in December from 51.4 in November and missed consensus of 51.2.
New export orders shrank for the first time since July, with the sub-index dropping to 49.8 from 50.6, indicating a softening of foreign demand.
Manufacturing employment declined to 48.7 from 49.6.
"Domestic and overseas demand was weaker than expected," says economist Li Heng. "Domestically, tight liquidity is weighing on factory output and orders," Heng added. "The economy is under some downward pressures but the slowdown remains modest...We think Q4 GDP growth should be 7.7% and the same for Q1 2014." (PR)