The preliminary HSBC China Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index fell to 51.5 in February, a drop of 3 points from January, the Wall Street Journal reported. The index is a gauge of nationwide manufacturing activity. The preliminary February reading represents a seven-month low, which may help ease concerns about the Chinese economy overheating. However, both input and output prices increased, which suggests that inflationary pressures remain. January had seen the index rebound upwards, but the new data “point to a meaningful slowdown in the industrial sector in February,” said Hongbin Qu, HSBC chief economist for China. A reading above 50 indicates expansion in manufacturing activity, with figures below 50 indicating contraction.