The MNI China Business Sentiment Indicator, a gauge of current business sentiment, fell for the fourth consecutive month to 48.8 in April from 52.2 in March, now at its lowest since the beginning of 2009

Confidence in contractionary territory for the first time since the financial crisis

New Orders and Production significantly weaker in April ... both at the lowest levels in a year

"Our panel were unambiguously downbeat in April, painting a sombre outlook for growth in the short-term. Action taken by the authorities to date will take time to come through, although the continued downturn in sentiment suggests that further support will be required," said Philip Uglow, Chief Economist of MNI Indicators.

"Balancing the twin goals of maintaining growth close to 7% and pushing ahead with reforms will prove challenging. The good news to date is that so far there are few signs the authorities are abandoning the reform agenda."