Manufacturing in China continued to slow for a second month in August according to a survey of purchasing managers compiled by HSBC, the Wall Street Journal reported. The preliminary reading of the China Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) came in at 49.8 for August, below the benchmark of 50, indicating a contraction. However, the August reading still beats July’s confirmed reading of 49.3 and exceeds analysts’ expectations. HSBC Chief Economist for China Hongbin Qu said the relatively gradual slope of the contraction may indicate that a hard landing for China’s economy will be avoided. Vice Commerce Minister Jiang Yaoping said in a statement that external forces such as slowing global demand and debt crises in the developed world are a challenge to maintaining Chinese growth. China’s trade surplus increased to $31.5 billion in July, a 20% rise from a year earlier.