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Growth in China’s manufacturing sector cooled in September as the trade row with the United States sent a chill through the already slowing economy.

The official Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) fell to 50.8 in September from 51.3 in August, but remained above the 50-point mark that separates growth from contraction for the 26th straight month, according to official data released on Sunday.

Analysts surveyed by Reuters had forecast the reading would ease to 51.2.

Weighed down by rising financing costs and slowing investment, China’s economy was already starting to cool even before the trade dispute with Washington flared this year.

Beijing is speeding up infrastructure spending and offering help to smaller companies to prevent a sharper slowdown, though policymakers are wary of adding to a mountain of debt that was fuelled by past stimulus binges.