BEIJING, Feb. 29 (Xinhua) -- The purchasing managers' index (PMI) for China's non-manufacturing sector came in at 29.6 in February, down from 54.1 in January, the National Bureau of Statistics said Saturday.
A reading above 50 indicates expansion, while a reading below it reflects contraction.
The sharp decline resulted from the impact of the novel coronavirus outbreak, said NBS senior statistician Zhao Qinghe.
In breakdown, 19 of the surveyed 21 industries of the non-manufacturing sector stayed in the contraction zone while the sub-index for business activities in the financial sector came in at 50.1, maintaining in the expansion zone and playing a key role in the epidemic prevention and the development of the economy, said Zhao.
The service sector has experienced a decline. The sub-index for business activities in the service sector stood at 30.1 this month, lower than the reading of 53.1 in January.
While decline was recorded in telecommunications and Internet and software industries, their sub-readings were above the overall level of the service sector thanks to the development of cloud office, online education and remote diagnosis,said Zhao.
The sub-indexes for business activities and new orders in the construction sector came in at 26.6 and 23.8 in February, respectively, both of which decreased from last month.
The sub-reading for the non-manufacturing sector's business expectations also declined to 41.8 in February, but the sub-reading of the civil engineering sector's business expectations reached 51.8, staying above 50 as enterprises in the sector were optimistic about market recovery, said Zhao.
Zhao noted that the polices released by the government such as easing tax and fees burdens, strengthening financial services, rent reductions and stabilizing employment will cushion the impact of the epidemic on enterprises, especially small businesses and accelerate the resumption of work and production.
Saturday's data also showed the PMI of China's manufacturing sector stood at 35.7 in February, down from 50 in January.