Growth in China's services sector accelerated to a 17-month high in December, a private survey showed, adding to views that the world's second-largest economy is entering the new year with stronger momentum.
The strong pick-up mirrored improvements in manufacturing surveys earlier this week, as market watchers debate whether China's leaders will settle for a more modest growth target this year in order to focus on more pressing issues such as an explosive growth in debt.
The services PMI rose to 53.4 in December on a seasonally adjusted basis from 53.1 in November, the Markit/Caixin services purchasing managers' index (PMI) showed.
The December reading was the highest since July 2015, and well above the 50-mark that demarcates expansion in activity from contraction on a monthly basis.
New business for services firms also rose at the fastest pace in 17 months, while business expectations were at a 4-month high, though an employment sub-index remained stubbornly weak and input prices rose the fastest in nearly two years.