Chinese factories were quieter again in September as demand softened at home and abroad.
Several surveys have shown strains on smaller and medium-sized manufacturing and service companies which are the driving force behind China’s economy.
Activity at larger state factories shrank for a second straight month, though at a slower pace than in August.
Smaller manufacturers reported the worst conditions in six and a half years.
The weak readings are fueling fears that the Chinese economy may be cooling more rapidly than previously thought, and that growth may slip below 7 percent in the third quarter.