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Growth in China's manufacturing sector slowed more than expected in January in the face of a cooling property market and tighter pollution rules that have curtailed factory output.
The official Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) released on Wednesday dipped to 51.3 in January, from 51.6 in December.
But it remained comfortably above the 50-point mark that separates growth from contraction on a monthly basis.
Analysts surveyed by Reuters had forecast the reading would ease marginally to 51.5.
Boosted by government infrastructure spending, a resilient property market and unexpected strength in exports, China's manufacturing and industrial firms helped the economy post better-than-expected growth of 6.9 per cent in 2017, its first annual acceleration in seven years.
The data gives global investors their first look at business conditions in China at the start of 2018, with the government's war on winter smog and a continued crackdown on riskier types of financing adding to uncertainty amid early signs of a slowdown in the world's second-largest economy.