China's services sector cooled in November to its weakest growth in three months, an HSBC purchasing managers' index showed on Monday, the latest data portraying an economy slowing quickly and in need of policy support.
The index fell to 52.5, a sharp decline given that October's reading was 54.1 - the highest in four months - though the index remains above the 50 level that separates expansion from contraction in the sector.
Expectations for new business dropped to their lowest level in three months too, but remained firmly above 50.
"With price pressures easing further, Beijing can and should use policies that are targeted on small businesses and service sectors to keep GDP growth at above eight per cent for the coming year," Qu Hongbin, HSBC's chief China economist, said in a statement.
China's official PMI for its non-manufacturing sector, released on Saturday, fell to 49.7 in November from 57.7 in October, the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing said.
The readings mirror similar weakness in the country's giant manufacturing sector and underline expectations that Beijing will ease monetary policy further to cushion the blows of the global economy.
PMI data in the past week has shown that both domestic and export orders are weakening, helping explain the central bank's decision last week to cut bank reserve requirements for the first time in three years.
The move to free up cash was a signal that the central bank was shifting toward loosening monetary policy to support the economy, which is widely expected to grow next year at less than 9 percent for the first time in a decade, economists said.
City A.M. Reporter