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China Feb official PMI contracts for second month in Feb

BEIJING, March 1 (Reuters) - Activity in China's factory sector contracted for a second straight month in February, according to an official survey released on Sunday, only hours after the Chinese central bank cut interest rates to try to boost slowing momentum.

The official Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) inched up to 49.9 in February from January's 49.8, a whisker below the 50-point level that separates growth from contraction on a monthly basis.

Analysts polled by Reuters had forecast a February reading of 49.7.

A housing slump, erratic export performance and a state-led slowdown in investment to help restructure China's economy has hurt growth in the past year, making it sink to a 24-year low of 7.4 percent.

Late on Saturday, the People's Bank of China cut the benchmark lending rate by 25 basis points to 5.35 percent.

(Reporting by Judy Hua and Pete Sweeney; Editing by Richard Borsuk)