BEIJING, Feb. 3 (Xinhua) -- The Caixin General Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) edged down to 51.0 last month from December's high of 51.9.
A reading above 50 indicates expansion, while a reading below 50 represents contraction.
Output and new orders increased at weaker rates alongside a reduction in employment.
In contrast, new exports rose at the fastest pace since September 2014, according to the survey conducted by financial information service provider Markit and sponsored by Caixin Media Co. Ltd.
Inflationary pressure remains sharp, with both input costs and output charges increasing at rates scarcely seen throughout the past five years.
Nonetheless, companies remained optimistic towards future growth prospects, and expressed the highest degree of optimism towards the 12-month business outlook since July 2016.
The manufacturing purchasing managers' index (PMI) released by the National Bureau of Statistics came in at 51.3 in January, staying in expansionary territory for the sixth month, pointing to a stabilizing economy.