BEIJING, Oct 31 (Reuters) - Growth in China's manufacturing sector cooled more than expected in October in the face of a weakening property market and tighter pollution rules that are forcing many steels mills, smelters and factories to curtail production over the winter.
The official Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) released on Tuesday stood at 51.6 in October, compared with 52.4 in September
It was the lowest reading since July's 51.4, but remained well above the 50-point mark that separates growth from contraction on a monthly basis.
Analysts surveyed by Reuters had forecast the reading would come in at 52.0, easing marginally from a more than five-year high in September but still well above the recent trend.
A recovery for China's manufacturing and industrial firms -- boosted by government spending, a resilient property market and unexpected strength in exports -- has helped the economy post better-than-expected growth of nearly 6.9 percent through the first nine months of this year.
The data will give global investors their first look at business conditions in China at the start of the fourth quarter, with the government's war on winter smog adding to uncertainty amid early signs of a slowdown in the world's second-largest economy. (Reporting by Elias Glenn; Editing by Kim Coghill)