China services growth at five-month low in February: NBS PMI

Sun Mar 3, 2013 12:51am EST
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By Ben Blanchard

BEIJING (Reuters) - Growth in China's increasingly important services sector expanded at its slowest pace in five months in February, reinforcing the view that the recovery in the world's second-largest economy remains modest.

China's non-manufacturing purchasing managers' index (PMI) stood at 54.5 according to a statement from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), down from January's 56.2 and the slowest pace of expansion since September 2012 - the low point of China's recent economic downturn.

"This showed that market demand in the non-manufacturing sector maintained steady growth trend, but the pace slowed," the NBS said in a statement.

The PMI new orders sub-index fell to 51.9 in February from 53.8 in the previous month. The sub-index for construction in Feb fell to 58 from 61.6 in January.

But the sectors of air and rail transport, environmental protection, logistics and retail maintained robust growth, with their sub-indices hovering over 60 in February, the NBS said.

Although a five-month low, the PMI reading indicates that the services sector is still experiencing solid growth - 50 demarcates expanding from contracting activity according to survey methodology.

Nevertheless, the retreat to a five-month low for services growth mirrors that in the manufacturing sector, indicated by both official and private sector surveys that were published on Friday.

China's factory growth cooled to multi-month lows in February as domestic demand dipped, weighing on firms already hit by slack foreign sales and underlining the patchiness of the country's economic recovery.   Continued...

A job seeker (R) attends a work interview during a job fair at a convention center in Shanghai April 7, 2012. REUTERS/Carlos Barria