China's HSBC PMI edged up to 48.1 in April from 48 in March but came in below the flash figure of 48.3.
Output and new orders contracted at slower rates, staff numbers fell for the sixth month in a row, and there was a "solid reduction" in input and output prices, says Markit, adding that new export orders also shrank.
The reading indicates that factory activity contracted for the fourth consecutive month, although the figure contrasts with official data that shows slight growth.
While Beijing has recently introduced additional reform aimed at supporting growth by promoting more private-sector investment, HSBC believes that "bolder actions will be required to ensure the economy regains its momentum."
The Shanghai Composite is -0.3%. (PR)
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