BEIJING (Reuters) - China's services industry grew at a steady pace in November, a private survey showed on Wednesday, a further indication of strength in the world's second-largest economy as the government embarks on a sweeping restructuring drive.
The HSBC/Markit services PMI stood at 52.5 in November, little changed from October's 52.6 and above the 50 line that separates expansion from contraction.
On Tuesday a government PMI survey of the services industry showed growth holding near a one-year high.
Growth in new orders eased from October's seven-month peak, pointing to a possible softening ahead, the HSBC/Markit survey found.
"Service sectors maintained a steady pace of growth in November, translating into the third consecutive month of employment expansion," said Hongbin Qu, chief economist for China at HSBC.
"However, the moderation of new business and prices-charged growth implies that the underlying growth momentum started to soften."
The economy has regained some momentum since mid-year after a protracted slowdown. While it was expected to lose steam as the effect of government support measures faded, activity has remained resilient into the December quarter.
That is seen strengthening the government's hand to push ahead with its ambitious agenda of reshaping the economy to boost domestic consumption at the expense of the traditional drivers of exports and investment.
The services industry accounted for 45 percent of China's gross domestic output in 2012, and it overtook manufacturing as the country's biggest employer in 2011. It has weathered the global slowdown much better than the factory sector.
The official purchasing managers' index (PMI) for the non-manufacturing sector dipped slightly to 56 in November from a 13-month high of 56.3 in October, the National Bureau of Statistics said on Tuesday.
That was still comfortably above the 50 point threshold, and follows two other PMI surveys this week that showed a pick-up in activity for manufacturers last month.
The official survey is weighted towards bigger and state-owned firms and tends to come in higher than the HSBC survey, which focuses on smaller and private businesses.
(Reporting by Jonathan Standing; Editing by John Mair)
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