China services sector sees pick-up in activity

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 03 September, 2013, 9:34am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 04 September, 2013, 1:34am

The mainland's services sector grew steadily last month as domestic demand picked up, data showed yesterday, adding to signs that government measures have started to steer the economy out of a prolonged slowdown.

The non-manufacturing purchasing managers' index slipped to 53.9 from July's 54.1 to be at the same level as in June, the National Bureau of Statistics said.

A reading above 50 indicates a pickup in activity while one below 50 points to a slowdown.

The survey followed two manufacturing PMIs which showed factory activity rose last month.

"The non-manufacturing sector grew steadily in August. The rise in new orders set a good foundation for growth in the next few months," said Cai Jin, a deputy head of the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing, which compiles the index on behalf of the bureau.

Premier Li Keqiang struck a cautiously positive note at an investment forum in Nanning, Guangxi province, yesterday.

"The economy has grown steadily in the first half of the year," Li said. "And recent economic data indicates employment and inflation are stable."

The mainland's economic growth has slowed in 12 of the past 14 quarters. Beijing has rolled out measures to prevent growth from sliding too far, allowing it to set a base for pressing ahead with long-awaited structural reforms to move the economy off a dependence on investment, credit and exports.

These have included measures to support small businesses, such as scrapping some taxes and making financing more easily available.

The statistics bureau said a sub-index of small business activities had risen for two months. It did not provide a number.

"The policies have shown their initial effects," the federation said, adding that the implementation of policies to boost the telecommunications and health sectors meant the services sector's prospects would be even better in the next few months.

The sub-index measuring new orders, from home and abroad, rose to 50.9 from July's 50.3, while input prices and service charges fell, easing cost pressures.

However, new export orders contracted, with that sub-index falling to 49.6 from 53.1, indicating demand remains soft despite signs of recovery in the United States and Europe.