A non-official preliminary purchasing managers index (PMI) released on Thursday indicated that China's manufacturing activity continued to contract in December even though the reading was higher than that of November.
The HSBC Flash China Manufacturing PMI rose to 49.0 in December, up from a final reading of 47.7 in November, HSBC Holdings PLC said.
A reading above 50 denotes growth, while a reading below 50 suggests contraction.
The rise reflects the results of some easing measures already undertaken by the Chinese government, said Hongbin Qu, HSBC chief economist for China.
"The pace of the slowdown stabilized in December but the growth momentum remains weak with additional downside risks from exports and the property market not yet fully filtering through," Qu said in a note.
"With inflation quickly shifting to disinflation, the Chinese government can and should take more aggressive easing measures on both fiscal and monetary fronts to stabilize growth and jobs," Qu said. Disinflation refers to the decline in the rate of inflation.
The preliminary HSBC China PMI figure is calculated on 85 percent to 90 percent of total responses to HSBC's PMI survey each month, and is issued about one week before the final PMI reading. The final PMI reading for December is scheduled to be released on Dec. 30.
The National Bureau of Statistics and the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing (CFLP) are expected to release the official PMI data for December on Jan. 1 next year. The CFLP's PMI is based on a survey of purchasing managers in more than 820 companies in 20 industries.