Industry data in China released Thursday showed that manufacturing activity contracted in November for the first time in 33 months, Agence France Presse reported.
Amid a slowdown in the global economy, China's Purchasing Managers Index – a key indicator of manufacturing activity – fell to 49, its lowest level since February 2009.
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A reading above 50 indicates an expansion of the sector, anything less indicates a contraction, AFP reported.
Zhang Liqun, an analyst with the Development Research Centre of the State Council, said the drop suggests the “economic growth pace would continue to moderate in the future,” the BBC reported.
China's manufacturing sector has been propelling the country's economic growth, and the new data comes amid fears that economic woes in Europe and the United States are hurting demand for Chinese goods.
On Wednesday Chinese authorities reduced the amount of money banks must keep in reserve for the first time since 2008, AFP reported.
Analysts say the move is designed to boost lending amid the slowdown, and to encourage growth.