China's non-manufacturing sector continued to expand in April, although at a slower pace, the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing (CFLP) said Thursday.
The non-manufacturing sector's Purchasing Managers Index (PMI), a key economic indicator, fell 1.9 percentage points from March to 56.1 percent, according to a CFLP statement.
A PMI reading above 50 percent indicates expansion from the previous month, while readings below 50 percent indicate contraction.
Taking seasonal factors into account, the index had increased for two consecutive months before retreating in April.
The April figure remains relatively high and shows that the non-manufacturing economy has maintained steady growth, said Cai Jin, vice chairman of the CFLP.
"All industries saw balanced development and stable expansion overall," said Cai. "The non-manufacturing sector will continue to pick up steadily as investment and holiday consumption increase."
The release came two days after the CFLP announced that China's PMI for the manufacturing sector rose for the fifth consecutive month in April to 53.3 percent, although at a much slower growth rate compared to March.
China's gross domestic product expanded 8.1 percent year-on-year in the first quarter, the slowest growth in nearly three years, over flagging exports and a softening property sector.
All major sub-indices under the non-manufacturing PMI dipped in April except those for inventories and new export orders, the CFLP said.
The sub-index for new orders in the real estate industry remained below 50 percent in April, although the industry's business activity index reached its highest level since September 2009, Cai said.
The situation will help subdue housing prices, as supply is expected to outpace demand, he added.
The new order sub-index for the entire non-manufacturing sector dropped 0.8 percentage points from March to 52.7 percent.
Both the sub-index for intermediate input prices and that for charges slumped below historical average levels, pointing to less inflationary pressure, Cai said.
China's consumer price index (CPI), a main gauge of inflation, expanded 3.6 percent year-on-year in March after logging a 3.2-percent growth rate in February, the lowest in 20 months.
The CFLP's non-manufacturing PMI is based on a survey of about 1,200 companies in 27 industries, including transportation, real estate, catering and software development.