China's official manufacturing PMI slipped to an eight-month low of 50.2 in February from 50.5 but topped forecasts of 50.1.
The data adds to flash HSBC PMI that showed that Chinese factory activity softened in February. The final HSBC reading is due out on Monday.
Both sets of figures were probably distorted by the Chinese New Year, so the government remains sanguine. "Based on market demand and the production situation in some sectors, we expect that future economic growth will remain generally stable," the government said.
"The slowdown in manufacturing growth is due to a deceleration in investment, especially of credit-sensitive infrastructure and real-estate investment," says RBS economist Louis Kuijs. "But there's no need to become overly concerned - the government has the policy space it needs to ensure its bottom line on growth this year while retaining financial stability." (PR)