January 31, 2020 / 1:14 AM / 20 days ago

China's service sector activity grows faster in January: official PMI

FILE PHOTO: Smoke billows from a chimney as workers leave a factory in rural Gaoyi county, known for its ceramics production, near Shijiazhuang, Hebei province, China, December 7, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas Peter/File Photo

BEIJING (Reuters) - Growth in China’s services sector activity quickened in January, official data showed on Friday.

The official services PMI rose to 54.1, from 53.5 in December, the National Bureau of Statistics said. The 50-point mark separates growth from contraction on a monthly basis.

Beijing has been counting on a strong services sector to help offset prolonged weakness in manufacturing, which has been weighed by weak domestic and global demand and the protracted U.S.-China trade war.

But analysts estimate the sector could take a severe hit from an outbreak of the new coronavirus, as shops, restaurants and movie theaters see a slump in sales as people avoid crowded areas.

The official January composite PMI, which includes both manufacturing and services activity, fell to 53.0 from December’s 53.4.

Reporting by Lusha Zhang and Gabriel Crossley; Editing by Sam Holmes

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