China's manufacturing activity falls to a 32-month low

Chinese factory
Image caption The manufacturing sector has been one of the biggest drivers of China's economic growth

China's manufacturing activity fell to a 32-month low in November, hurt by a slowdown in the global economy.

China's official Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) fell to 49.0 in November, the lowest level since March 2009.

The industry survey data comes amid concerns that a slowdown in the global economy may dent demand for Chinese goods and hurt its economy.

PMI is a key indicator of manufacturing activity and a reading below 50 shows contraction.

This is the first time in almost three years that the figure has fallen below the crucial 50 mark.

"The November PMI dropped further to below the boom-bust line of 50... indicates that the economic growth pace would continue to moderate in the future," said Zhang Liqun, a researcher with the Development Research Centre of the State Council.

Slowing demand

The success of its manufacturing sector has been key to China's economic growth in the past few years.

However, recent economic problems in two of its biggest export markets - the US and Europe - have raised concerns about whether the sector can maintain its growth pace.

Those fears were fanned further as the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing (CFLP), who produce the official PMI, said that the index for new orders also fell in November.

The new export orders index dipped to 45.6 in November from 48.6 the month before, indicating an accelerating decline in demand.

The BBC's Damian Grammaticas in Beijing said that even though China's economy was still expanding, the slowdown in the pace of growth was faster than expected.

He said the authorities were now "concerned about how to keep China's economy from slowing too fast".

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