China's non-manufacturing businesses strengthened for a fourth month in January, fueled by the accelerated consumption of retail goods and a growing number of construction projects.
The non-manufacturing purchasing managers' index last month climbed to 56.2 from 56.1 in December, reaching its highest level since September, the National Bureau of Statistics and the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing reported on Sunday.
"Stable growth of the non-manufacturing sector is strengthening," said Cai Jin, vice-chairman of the CFLP.
The index surveys 1,200 randomly selected enterprises in 27 industries. A PMI of above 50 indicates expansion and below 50 indicates contraction.
The civil engineering construction industry saw its fastest growth in January since March, the data showed.
"Economic growth driven by infrastructure construction investment will be more important this year," said Cai, adding that the Ministry of Railways will invest 650 billion yuan ($104.39 billion) in 2013 — the third-largest amount in a decade.
The push for urbanization will increase demand for rail lines, roads and housing, he added.
According to the NBS, the retail industry developed at the fastest rate among the 19 consumer service industries, with a PMI reading that rose to 71.1, up from 66.6.
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