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March 1, 2015, 4:23 p.m. EST

China's official manufacturing gauge edges up

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By MarketWatch

BEIJING--An official gauge of China's manufacturing sector edged up in February but remained in contractionary territory for a second month in a row, official data showed.

China's official manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index rose slightly to 49.9 in February from 49.8 in January, the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing, which issues the data with the National Bureau of Statistics, said in a statement Sunday.

The February PMI was slightly higher than the median 49.8 forecast from a Wall Street Journal poll of eight economists.

A PMI reading above 50 indicates an expansion in manufacturing activity, from the previous month, whereas a reading below 50 indicates a contraction.

The subindex measuring new orders rose to 50.4 in Feburary from 50.2 in January, but the production subindex fell to 51.4 from 51.7, the statement said.

The preliminary HSBC China manufacturing PMI, a competing gauge of nationwide manufacturing activity, rose to 50.1 in February compared with a final reading of 49.7 in January, HSBC Holdings PLC said last week. The final February reading for the HSBC PMI is due at 01:45 GMT on Monday.

China's official nonmanufacturing PMI, also released on Sunday, rose to 53.9 in February from 53.7 in January.

China's central bank on Saturday cut interest rates for the second time in less than four months, in a fresh sign that the country's leadership is becoming more aggressive in trying to arrest flagging economic growth.

-- Liyan Qi

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