China’s manufacturing sector expanded for a fifth month last month, but growth slowed a touch more than expected in a sign that government measures to rein in soaring asset prices are starting to have a knock-on effect on the broader economy. The official purchasing managers’ index (PMI) stood at 51.4 in December compared with 51.7 in November, data released on Sunday showed. A reading above 50 indicates an expansion on a monthly basis while one below 50 suggests a contraction. December’s reading was slightly below the forecast in a Reuters poll for 51.5. A housing boom in the second half of last year and a government spending spree on infrastructure have helped boost prices for commodities from cement to steel, giving the manufacturing sector a much-needed lift. But the government is cracking down on speculative property buying, and signals from policymakers that more will be done to contain asset bubbles and rising debt – even at the expense of slower growth – means extra stimulus measures could be limited.