China's services sector grew at its slowest pace in almost 2-1/2 years in January after firms secured a smaller volume of new business, a private survey showed, adding to growing signs of slackening in the Chinese economy.
The HSBC/Markit Services Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) retreated to 50.7 in January, a low last seen in August 2011 though still above the 50-point level that demarcates growth and contraction. December's PMI was 50.9.
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The index is the last of China's four monthly PMI releases, which all showed growth in the world's second-largest economy moderating in January on softer local and foreign demand.
Friday's PMI showed new business growth hit a seven-month low in January, an outcome that may prolong a debate among economists on whether the weak demand last month was mostly caused by the Jan. 31 start of Lunar New Year holidays, as many firms closed shop early for celebrations.