China’s service sector growth slowed at the start of the year as demand was dampened by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, survey results from IHS Markit showed on Wednesday.

The Caixin services Purchasing Managers’ Index fell to 52.0 in January from 56.3 in December. However, a score above 50 indicates expansion in the sector.

The reading signaled the slowest rate of growth recorded over the current nine-month period of expansion.

New work received by services companies grew at the slowest rate since last August. New orders from overseas gained at the weakest pace in three months as the recent rise in virus cases weighed on global demand.

Services companies in China added to their staffing levels for the sixth month running, but the rate of job creation eased further.

The rate of cost inflation quickened to the second-sharpest since April 2012. Meanwhile, prices charged by services companies increased at a moderate pace that was the slowest seen for three months, the survey showed.

Although business confidence regarding the 12-month outlook for activity remained strong in January, the degree of positive sentiment weakened since December.

The composite output index came in at 52.2 in January, down from 55.8 in December, to signal only a moderate rise in overall output.

The rate of growth was the softest seen since the current period of expansion began last May, driven by slower rises in both manufacturing and services activity.

The material has been provided by InstaForex Company – www.instaforex.com

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