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China final HSBC PMI hits three-month low in December

Factory activity in China expanded at its slowest pace in three months in December, the final reading of HSBC's purchasing managers' index on Thursday showed.

The December PMI stood at 50.5, in line with a flash estimate released last month.

The break down of the survey showed new export orders at a four-month low, adding to evidence that China's economy lost some momentum in the final quarter of last year.

(Read more: China debt: The biggest 'known, unknown' in 2014?)

This picture taken on November 16, 2013 shows workers sewing in a clothing factory in Bozhou, east China's Anhui province.
STR | Collection | Getty Images
This picture taken on November 16, 2013 shows workers sewing in a clothing factory in Bozhou, east China's Anhui province.

"This is still the December reading, so we're closing out 2013 on a softer note in China," said Frederic Neumann, managing director and co-head of Asian Economics Research at HSBC.

"The biggest surprise here is the weak new export order reading with new orders contracting. We had the Korea PMI out earlier as well, which also showed contracting export orders so the trade cycle isn't firing on all cylinders," he added.

The HSBC data follows the release of the official PMI on Wednesday which dipped to 51.0 in December from 51.4 in November and came in below analysts' expectations.

The HSBC survey is weighted towards smaller and private companies, while the official China PMI has larger and state-owned companies.

(Read more: Four big challenges for Asia in 2014: HSBC)

Asian stock markets were little changed following the data, while the Australian dollar rose 0.2 percent to around 0.8898 per U.S. dollar.

China is Australia's main trading partner, so the Aussie dollar tends to be sensitive to economic news from China.

— Follow us on Twitter @CNBCWorld

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