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China July official services PMI slips to 54.5 but remains solid

BEIJING, July 31 (Reuters) - Growth in China's services sector slowed slightly in July but remained at robust levels, an official survey showed on Monday.

The official non-manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) fell to 54.5, from 54.9 in June, but remained well above the 50-point mark that separates growth from contraction on a monthly basis.

The services sector accounted for over half of China's economy last year as rising wages give Chinese consumers the opportunity to shop, travel and eat out more.

China's leaders are counting on growth in services and consumption to rebalance their economic growth model from its heavy reliance on investment and exports.

China posted stronger-than-expected economic growth of 6.9 percent in the first half, fueled by a year-long construction boom, resurgent exports and robust retail sales.

But economists have expected the pace to slow slightly in the second half due to higher financing costs, a regulatory clampdown on riskier lending and some signs of moderating in the red-hot housing market. (Reporting by Elias Glenn and Ryan Woo; Editing by Kim Coghill; Editing by)