Growth in China's services sector remained strong in January, a private survey showed, as companies reported a solid increase in orders.
Improving business conditions prompted service companies to hire staff at the fastest pace in 20 months.
The strong reading mirrored improvements in manufacturing surveys last week, giving China's policymakers more room to focus on containing the financial risks from a sharp rise in debt.
Though activity in services slowed slightly from December, strong growth looks set to continue, in line with policymakers efforts to rebalance the economy toward services and consumption, which are the biggest drivers of growth in the world's second-largest economy.
The services PMI was 53.1 in January on a seasonally adjusted basis, dipping from 53.4 in December, the Markit/Caixin services purchasing managers' index (PMI) showed.
But it remained well above the 50-mark that separates expansion in activity from contraction on a monthly basis.
Expansion in new business for services firms also slowed slightly from December but remained robust, while business expectations matched an 18-month high at a reading of 60.8.