The increase seen in China's official non-manufacturing purchasing managers' index for August is showing a silver lining to the cloud that was cast over the country's economic prospects by an exceptionally low manufacturing index.
Yet, before we can confidently say the economy is bottoming out, we need to see economic data for the coming month.
The non-manufacturing PMI stood at 56.3 in August, up slightly from July's 55.6. The index tracks activity in the retail, aviation, software, real estate and construction industries.
At the least, the increases indicate that China's services industry has managed to weather the economic slowdown, which resulted in 7.6 percent year-on-year growth in GDP in the second quarter of 2012, the lowest rate of increase in three years.
The higher August reading is also helping to alleviate the worries of people who think the country's economy is continuing to deteriorate. Such concerns were further stoked by the National Bureau of Statistics' announcement on Saturday that the August manufacturing PMI had hit a nine-month low of 49.2. A reading above 50 indicates expansion and one below contraction.
A sub-index for new orders in the construction sector, in particular, has shown month-on-month increases in two consecutive months, indicating that the larger investments made in recent months may be starting to bolster the economy.
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