The Caixin General Services Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) slipped to 52.6 in February from 53.1 in January and the 17-month high of 53.4 in December 2016, according to the survey conducted by financial information service provider Markit, sponsored by Caixin Media.
A reading above 50 indicates expansion, while a reading below represents contraction.
New orders placed with service providers continued to climb last month on improved demand and expansion in new markets, but the growth rate was unchanged from January.
The increase in job creation weakened slightly in February from the preceding month, according to the survey, which is based on monthly data compiled from purchasing executives at more than 400 companies.
Inflation pressure softened in February with service companies registering the lowest increase in their costs since November. Competitive market pressures also undermined firms’ pricing power, leading to services prices barely changing from January.
Figures published Wednesday showed the Caixin China General Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) rose to 51.7 last month from 51.0 in January.
As a result, the Caixin China Composite Output Index, which covers both manufacturing and services, increased to 52.6 in February from 52.2 the previous month.
“The figures suggest that China’s economic growth continued to recover in February,” said Zhong Zhengsheng, director of macroeconomic analysis at CEBM Group, a subsidiary of Caixin Insight Group.
The Chinese economy grew by a stronger-than-expected 6.8 percent in the last three months of 2016, picking up from 6.7 percent growth in the January-September period.
The recovery looked to have gained traction as the latest official data showed that exports and inflation both increased this year.
Some analysts, however, said uncertainties such as expected corrections in the property market and financial risks might affect the sustainability of stronger growth.
The National Bureau of Statistics Wednesday published its non-manufacturing business activity index, which fell to 54.2 last month from 54.6 in January.
China will adjust the growth pattern in foreign trade from simply expanding the volume to improving structural quality, China’s new commerce minister Zhong Shan said on Friday.
The Ministry of Commerce will make further efforts to strengthen China’s role as a big trading nation and push for its increasing prowess in the sector, Zhong said on the sidelines of the fifth session of the 12th National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).
China’s foreign trade has stabilized and returned to growth in recent months, but concerns are looming on rising trade protectionism in some countries that is likely to bring uncertainties to the outlook.
In a good start to 2017, China’s foreign trade reached 2.18 trillion yuan (about 316.4 billion U.S. dollars) in January, up 19.6 percent year on year.
Last year, total export and import value decreased 0.9 percent year on year to 24.33 trillion yuan, narrowing down from a 7 percent decline in 2015.
Zhong was appointed commerce minister to replace Gao Hucheng last month.