BEIJING (Reuters) – Manufacturing activity in China grew at a slower pace in September, a private survey showed on Sunday, as weak external demand weighed on the outlook despite a rise in output .

The manufacturing PMI index calculated by Caixin/S&P Global stood at 50.6 in September, compared to 51.0 the previous month, slightly above the threshold of 50 which separates contraction and expansion of activity.

This is a number lower than the consensus, which stood at 51.2.

The world’s second-largest economy appears to be stabilizing after a series of measures were put in place, but the outlook is clouded by difficulties in the real estate sector, a decline in exports and high youth unemployment.

According to the survey, industrial production and new orders rose in September, but external demand remained weak, with the export orders index contracting for the third consecutive month.

In a separate survey, Caixin/S&P said service sector companies suffered from weak demand as well as rising labor and fuel costs.

The services PMI index calculated by Caixin/S&P Global, for its part, increased last month to 50.2, compared to 51.8 in August, the slowest pace this year.

The composite PMI index calculated by Caixin/S&P, which brings together activity in the manufacturing sector and that of the services sector, fell in September to 50.9, compared to 51.7 the previous month, a plus low since last December.

(Reporting Liangping Gao and Ryan Woo; Camille Raynaud)

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