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Caixin service PMI falls to a six-month low in March

CHINA'S services industries expanded at the slowest pace in six months, renewing worries for an ebbing momentum in the economy, a private report showed today.

The Caixin China General Services Purchasing Managers' Index, a gauge of operating conditions in mostly private service companies, dipped for the third consecutive month to 52.2 last month from February's 52.6, according to the survey conducted by financial information service provider Markit and sponsored by Caixin Media.

Business activity and new orders both expanded at the weakest rates in six months, while employment growth was the slowest in 2017 so far.

Meanwhile, cost burdens for services companies increased at the fastest pace since February 2013, forcing companies to raise their prices charged at the end of the first quarter, the survey said.

“The Chinese economy continued to expand in March, but growth in both manufacturing and services slowed,” said Zhong Zhengsheng, director of macroeconomic analysis at CEBM Group. “Weaker increases in new business have clouded the economic outlook, and investors should watch closely for signs of a turning point in the second quarter.”

Released on Saturday, the Caixin China General Manufacturing PMI dipped to 51.2 points from 51.7 in February.

Caixin attributed the weaker expansion to new export orders that increased at the slowest rate in three months.

However, China's official manufacturing PMI, leaning towards larger and state-owned companies, rose to 51.8 in March from 51.6 in February, the National Bureau of Statistics said on March 31.

The official non-manufacturing PMI expanded in March near the fastest pace in three years at 55.1, compared with February's 54.2 points.

Economists have forecast China's GDP to grow at 6.8 percent year-on-year in the first quarter, 0.1 percentage points higher than the annual growth last year and the same as the year-on-year growth in the fourth quarter last year.

“While growth and inflation will probably start to roll over in coming quarters due to a higher base and shift in policy, we expect only gradual moderation rather than a sharp slowdown,” Morgan Stanley said in a report today.


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