China's factory activity contracted in November for the second month in a row, official data showed Thursday, piling pressure on the government to provide more support for the flagging economy.

The manufacturing purchasing managers' index -- a key measure of factory output -- dipped to 49.4, the National Bureau of Statistics said.

The figure was slightly down from October and also weaker than the 49.8 forecast in a survey by Bloomberg.

China began dismantling its draconian zero-Covid restrictions in December 2022 after almost three years, which allowed the economy to rebound.

But that recovery has been hampered by weak consumer and business confidence, a persistent housing crisis, record youth unemployment and a global slowdown which is weighing on demand for Chinese goods.

After a tough year for the world's number-two economy, there have been flickers of life in recent weeks, with third-quarter growth coming in more than expected at 4.9 percent.

But Beijing still faces an uphill battle to achieve its stated annual target of around five percent.