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Official China factory index falls to 3-year low, in latest sign of economic slowdown

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HONG KONG — An official index of Chinese manufacturing contracted last month, falling to a three-year low and raising fears of slower-than expected growth in the world's No. 2 economy.

The manufacturing index based on a survey of factory purchasing managers fell to 49.7 in August from 50.0 in July.

The index released Tuesday and compiled by the Chinese Federation for Logistics and Purchasing is based on a 100 point scale on which numbers above 50 indicate an expansion.

It's the lowest level for the index since August 2012.

Other recent economic indicators such as export data have also shown larger-than-expected weakness.

In their latest attempt to shore up flagging economic growth, China's communist leaders cut interest rates last week, the fifth time they have done so in nine months.

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