China's manufacturing activity contracted for the second month in a row in February, hitting a seven-month low, according to HSBC's preliminary purchasing managers' index (PMI) released on Thursday. The HSBC/Markit China flash manufacturing PMI for February dipped to 48.3 from a final reading of 49.5 in January, showing manufacturing conditions deteriorating at a moderate pace in February, said data company Markit in a statement. PMI above 50 percent indicates expansion and below 50 percent, contraction. Commenting on the figure, HSBC's chief China economist Qu Hongbin said February's flash reading moderated as new orders and production contracted, reflecting the renewed destocking activities. The buildup of deflationary pressure implies that underlying manufacturing growth momentum could be weakening, and Beijing policymakers may need to finetune policy to keep growth steady in the coming year, Qu said.