China Service Industries Grow at Faster Pace as Economy Rebounds

China’s services industries expanded at the fastest pace in four months, adding to manufacturing gains that may help sustain an economic rebound this year.

The non-manufacturing purchasing managers’ index was at 56.1 in December after a 55.6 reading the previous month, the National Bureau of Statistics and China Federation of Logistics & Purchasing said in Beijing today. A reading above 50 indicates expansion.

The report highlights the importance of industries including retail and lodging as the Communist Party’s new leadership headed by Xi Jinping seek to boost domestic demand and consumption to make expansion more sustainable in the world’s second-largest economy. China’s exports rose less than forecast in November from a year earlier.

“The Chinese economy and its asset markets will remain in a sweet spot in the first half of 2013,” Lu Ting, chief Greater China economist at Bank of America Corp. in Hong Kong, said before the data. “The Chinese government will continue its pro-growth policy stance at the moment to withstand weak external demand.”

A separate services index will be released tomorrow by HSBC Holdings Plc and Markit Economics.

China’s official manufacturing PMI was 50.6 in December, the third month of expansion and equal to November’s level. The final reading of a manufacturing PMI released by HSBC and Markit was 51.5, the highest in 19 months.

The nation’s economic growth probably accelerated to 7.8 percent in the fourth quarter from a year earlier, up from a three-year low of 7.4 percent in the previous period, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey of 34 analysts. The government will release its report Jan. 18.

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