BEIJING, March 3 -- The purchasing managers' index (PMI) for China's non-manufacturing sector rebounded in February after dropping for three consecutive months, new data showed on Monday.
The index rose 1.6 percentage points from January to 55 percent last month, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) and the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing (CFLP).
The index tracks activity in non-manufacturing sectors, including construction, software, aviation, railway transport and real estate. A PMI reading above 50 percent indicates expansion, while a reading below 50 percent reflects contraction.
CFLP Vice Chairman Cai Jin attributed the rebound mainly to robust business activities after the Spring Festival, China's lunar new year.
"Rising activities, especially in service sectors, laid a solid foundation for steady economic growth," Cai said.
The index for service sectors surged 2.3 percentage points to 53.8 percent, the data showed.
The sub-index for new orders edged up 0.5 percentage points from a month earlier to 51.4 percent, marking the first rebound in five months, according to the NBS.
Meanwhile, the index for intermediary prices dropped for a second month in February to 52.1 percent, indicating narrowing growth.
The sub-index for charges dropped 1.1 percentage points to 49 percent, while the index for business outlook rebounded 1.8 percentage points to 59.9 percent.
The new data painted a different picture compared with the weak performance of the country's manufacturing sector during the same period.
China's manufacturing PMI retreated to an eight-month low of 50.2 percent in February, slowing for a third straight month, the NBS revealed on Saturday.
HSBC data also showed on Monday that the HSBC China Manufacturing PMI fell to a seven-month low of 48.5 percent last month, signaling a moderate deterioration in the health of China's manufacturing sector.
Commenting on the figure, HSBC's chief China economist Qu Hongbin said signs are becoming clear that "the risks to GDP growth are tilting to the downside."
This calls for policy fine-tuning measures to stabilize market expectations and steady the pace of growth in the coming quarters, he said.