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Chinese manufacturing weaker than expected in January

Key Points
  • China's official manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index for January was 51.3
  • Economists in a Reuters poll had expected official PMI to come in at 51.5 in January, slightly lower than 51.6 in December.
Kevin Frayer | Getty Images

China reported on Wednesday that factory activity expanded less than expected in January, with the official manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index coming in at 51.3.

The Chinese manufacturing PMI was forecast to dip to 51.5 in January from 51.6 in December, according to a poll of economists by Reuters. 

A reading above 50 indicates expansion, while a reading below that signals contraction.

Economists are expecting the Chinese economy to cool in 2018 after an unexpectedly strong showing in 2017 as the government cracks down on polluting industries and high debt levels.

China's official PMI gauge focuses on large companies and state-owned enterprises, while another set of readings by Caixin and IHS Markit focus on small and medium-sized enterprises — that data set is scheduled to be released on Thursday.

Growth in China's services industry, however, picked up, with the official non-manufacturing PMI rising to 55.3 from 55 in December, reflecting the transition in the world second-largest economy to consumption and services.