China's non-manufacturing activities weakened in February for the first time in three months as retail and catering consumption declined notably after the Spring Festival period.
The official non-manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index, an indicator of service industry vitality, fell to 48.4 last month from January's 52.9, the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing said in a statement released on Saturday.
A reading above 50 signals expansion and one below 50 indicates contraction.
"Retail and catering suffered an obvious drop after the Spring Festival holiday which led to an overall slowdown of the economy," said Cai Jin, vice president of the federation. "However, there won't be too much seasonal impact from now on as activities in the non-manufacturing industries will get back to their normal level from this month."
The federation's report, based on a survey of about 1,200 companies in 20 non-manufacturing industries including transport, retail, catering and software, showed that the real estate industry index posted a major rebound in February.
The activities in the property market were boosted by the end of the Lunar New Year holiday, a traditionally sluggish season for property purchases in China, and a positive market outlook because some local governments decided to finetune policies, the statement said.
An index tracking new orders fell to 46.1 in February, staying below 50 for the second straight month.