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Nov 1, 5:46 AM EDT

China manufacturing growth falls in October

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BEIJING (AP) -- China's manufacturing growth declined further in October amid a slowing economy and languishing global demand, according to a survey released Saturday.

The China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing said its purchasing managers' index dropped by 0.3 from September to 50.8. The index is a 100-point scale on which any number above 50 indicates an expansion of manufacturing.

The deceleration reflects a slowing of China's economic growth to a five-year low of 7.3 percent in the third quarter of the year.

"The small decline in the October PMI figure shows that economic growth still faces a certain amount of downward pressure," federation analyst Zhang Liqun said in a report.

Zhang said new government growth stabilizing policies unveiled in the third quarter were starting to have an effect in the real economy and would soon start to impact on PMI figures.

"According to this forecast, PMI figures won't go be trending downward in the long-term, nor will economic growth be trending downward in the long term," Zhang said.

Chinese leaders have said that full-year economic growth may fall short of their 7.5 percent target, but that it would be acceptable as long as inflation stays low and the economy continues to produce jobs.

The World Bank has warned that growth could decline to close to 7 percent next year, saying Beijing needs to promote competition and efficiency by reforming its labor and real estate markets along with its state-run financial system.

That warning gave new urgency to calls from reform advocates for the government of President Xi Jinping to move ahead with ambitious plans to give entrepreneurs and market forces a bigger role in the world's second-largest economy.

The government's National Bureau of Statistics portrayed Saturday's data as basically a healthy sign for the economy.

The figure indicates China's manufacturing sector "was steady as the economy is entering a `new normal,'" Zhao Qinghe, a bureau statistician, was quoted as saying by the official Xinhua News Agency.

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