Expansion in China's service sector continued to outpace that of manufacturing in September as the economy shifted its growth model, a private survey showed Saturday.
The Caixin China General Services PMI (Purchasing Managers' Index), an indicator of business activity, came in at 52 in September, slightly down from 52.1 in August but higher than the 51.7 recorded in July, according to the survey conducted by financial information service provider Markit and sponsored by Caixin Media Co. Ltd.
A reading above 50 indicates expansion, while a reading below 50 represents contraction.
The surveyed companies attributed the expansion to the growth of new projects and orders, with employment recovering for the first time since June, the survey showed.
The service sector PMI was markedly above that for the manufacturing sector, which edged up to 50.1 in September from 50 in August.
The trend corresponds with the official indicators released earlier by the National Bureau of Statistics, which showed the service sector's PMI at 52.3 in September, compared with 50.4 for manufacturing.
While China's economy is growing at its slowest pace since the global financial crisis, the country has achieved solid progress in re-balancing its economic structure from manufacturing and investment to services and consumption.
The service sector grew 7.5 percent in the first half of the year, accounting for 54.1 percent of the overall economy, up 1.8 percentage points from a year earlier, official data showed.
In September, service providers remained cautiously optimistic about business prospects, though their confidence slipped somewhat from August, according to the survey.
The Caixin China General Services PMI is based on data compiled from monthly replies to questionnaires sent to purchasing executives in more than 400 service companies.
The Caixin China Composite Output Index, which measures both service and manufacturing activity, was 51.4 in September, down from 51.8 in August but still at a relatively high level, according to the survey.
Zhong Zhengsheng, director of macroeconomic analysis at CEBM Group, said the overall economy continued to grow, but more support from fiscal policy is needed, noting that growth momentum remains insufficient.
China's economy expanded 6.7 percent in the second quarter, stable from the first quarter and still within the government's target range of 6.5-7 percent for 2016.