BEIJING (Reuters) - Growth in activity in China's vast factory sector slowed to a three-month low in August as output and new orders lost steam, a preliminary private survey showed on Thursday.
The HSBC/Markit Flash China Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) fell to 50.3 from July's 18-month high of 51.7, missing a Reuters forecast of 51.5.
It was the lowest reading since May, though the PMI stayed above the 50-point level that separates growth in activity from contraction for a third consecutive month.
A sub-index measuring new orders, a gauge of demand at home and abroad, fell to a three-month low of 51.3.
A sub-index for output also dropped to a three-month low in August.
The final Markit/HSBC manufacturing PMI for August is due September 1.
China's economic growth appears to be softening again after a hopeful bounce in June, with indicators ranging from lending to output and investment all pointing to more sluggish activity.
Despite a flurry of stimulus measures earlier this year, economists say more government support may be needed if Beijing is to meet its 2014 economic growth target of around 7.5 per cent.