But don't hit the panic button just yet. Economic data from China is difficult to interpret during the months around the Lunar New Year holiday, when many workers return home for the holidays. Other labor market indicators have remained healthy despite the manufacturing slowdown.
Evans-Pritchard said that the factory slowdown is unlikely to prompt a change in direction at the People's Bank of China.
The central bank is hoping to rein in credit growth, and is unlikely to loosen policy in a bid to support the flagging manufacturing sector.