China's official manufacturing purchasing managers' index held steady at 50.6 in December, matching November's seven-month high, the National Bureau of Statistics said on Tuesday.
The headline figure was lower than expectations from an economist poll by Reuters last week, which had forecast a stronger confirmation of recovering growth in the world's second-largest economy.
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A PMI reading below 50 suggests growth slowed, while a number above 50 indicates accelerating growth.
On Monday, the HSBC China PMI, which gathers more data from smaller, privately-held firms that have a strong export focus, signaled that growth in the manufacturing sector had quickened to its fastest pace since May 2011 with a December reading of 51.5.
(Reporting By Lucy Hornby: Editing by Neil Fullick)