BEIJING, April 3 China's official purchasing
managers' index (PMI) for the non-manufacturing sector rose to
55.6 in March from 54.5 in February, adding to signs of a modest
uptick in the world's second-largest economy.
The move higher was driven by activity in the construction
sector, whose sub-index jumped 4.5 points from February to 62.5
in March, according to the survey from the National Bureau of
The construction industry has been a major beneficiary of
government infrastructure spending, with about $150 billion
worth of projects given the green light in 2012 as part of an
effort to engineer a rebound in economic activity as GDP growth
slowed last year to a 13-year low of 7.8 percent.
But the recovery's broadly mild nature was evident in
overall new orders in the services sector, which nudged up just
0.2 index points to 52.0 in March from February.
A PMI reading above 50 indicates activity is accelerating,
while one below 50 indicates it is slowing.
A rise in new orders was broadly evident across multiple
service industries, the NBS statement said.
"The Internet and software information industry, the hotel
industry, telecommunications, broadcasting, television and
satellite transmission services, retailing and real estate
industries all saw new orders staying above the 50 point level,
suggesting a growing market demand," the statement said.
New orders for the catering, logistics and transportation
industries fared less well, dipping below the 50 point level and
suggesting a slow down in activity.
Catering services have been under pressure since the
government launched an internal austerity drive at the end of
last year, designed to cut down excessive banqueting and
gift-giving that is often linked to corruption.
The services sector index followed the bureau's
manufacturing PMI on Monday which missed market expectations
despite climbing to an 11-month high in March, underscoring that
the economy is making only a mild recovery from its weakest year
of growth since 1999.
China's services industry has so far weathered the global
slowdown much better than the factory sector.
Growth in China's increasingly important services sector had
expanded at its slowest pace in five months in February,
although environmental protection and retail maintained robust
growth, with their sub-indices hovering over 60.
All of which point to a firming of domestic demand that was
also detected in Monday's manufacturing sector surveys. Domestic
demand was the key factor driving a rebound in factory activity
Most analysts expect China's economy to enjoy a steady but
gentle recovery this year, with infrastructure investment and
household consumption helping compensate for softening demand
for Chinese exports.
(Reporting by Nick Edwards and Aileen Wang; Editing by Simon