BEIJING, Sept. 3 (Xinhua) -- China's non-manufacturing purchasing managers' index (PMI) fell to 53.9 percent in August from 54.1 percent for July, according to official data released on Tuesday.
A PMI reading above 50 percent indicates expansion in non-manufacturing activity, while a reading below 50 percent indicates contraction. The index was released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) and the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing (CFLP).
The index is based on a survey of about 1,200 companies in 27 non-manufacturing sectors, including service, construction, software, aviation, railway transport and real estate.
The index remained in expansionary territory despite the decline, indicating "steady growth" in the sector, said Cai Jin, vice chairman of the CFLP.
Cai said reading of the data also indicated small businesses in the non-manufacturing sector continue to improve while expansion in industries such as transport and logistics suggested the real economy is strengthening.
In August, the construction sector improved modestly but service industry weakened compared with a month ago, the NBS said.
The sub-index for new orders rose to 50.9 percent last month from 50.3 percent in July while that for employment gained 1.2 percentage points to 52.5 percent.
The business expectation sub-index remained in expansionary territory, standing at 62.9 percent in August, though it was down one percentage point from July.
The data was issued after the NBS announced on Sunday that its manufacturing PMI climbed to 51 percent in August from July's 50.3 percent and June's 50.1 percent.
China has targeted economic growth of 7.5 percent for the year. Its economic growth fell to 7.5 percent in the second quarter from 7.7 percent in Q1.