CHINA'S service industry expanded at the slowest pace in 16 months in December, a private survey showed yesterday, contrasting the official figure released by the National Bureau of Statistics on Thursday.
The HSBC services Purchasing Managers' Index, a monthly gauge of China's non-manufacturing industries that is slanted toward private and export-oriented companies, fell to 51.7 last month from 52.1 in November, HSBC Holdings Plc and Markit Economics said yesterday.
A reading above 50 suggests expansion.
"Despite the moderation of December's headline services PMI, the underlying strength of the service sector improved in terms of stronger new business flows and employment growth," Qu Hongbin, HSBC chief economist for China, said in a statement yesterday.
"This, plus the further pickup of manufacturing growth, suggests that China is on track for achieving around 8 percent GDP growth in the fourth quarter (of last year)," he added.
The private report contrasted Thursday's official report compiled by the National Bureau of Statistics. The official services PMI, which is weighted toward state-owned companies, registered a four-month high of 56.1 last month.
Meanwhile, both the official and HSBC manufacturing PMIs released earlier this week indicated an economic rebound rather than a slowdown.
"This suggests that the services sector is not participating in economic recovery to the same degree that the manufacturing sector is, given that stimulus measures impacted mostly the manufacturing industry," said Dariusz Kowalczyk, senior economist at Credit Agricole.
"The result also highlights the fact that ongoing recovery of the Chinese economy is relatively subdued," he said in a research note yesterday.
The service industry accounted for about 44 percent of the economy by the end of September, according to the statistics bureau. The government plans to raise that share as it seeks sustainable economic growth.
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