The services sector in China grew at a slightly accelerated pace in March, the latest survey from HSBC showed on Friday, with a PMI score of 52.3.

That’s up from 52.0 in February, and it moved further above the boom-or-bust line of 50 that separates expansion from contraction.

“Chinese manufacturers and service providers both managed only modest increases in output at the end of the first quarter. Data suggests that relatively weak client demand had dampened growth across both sectors, with new orders expanding at the slowest rate in eight months at service providers while falling at manufacturers,” said Markit economist Annabel Fiddes.

The composite index came in with a score of 51.8, unchanged from the previous month.

Latest survey data signaled divergent trends with regard to new business, with manufacturers noting a slight contraction of new orders while new work rose modestly at service providers.

New business at the composite level expanded at a marginal rate that was the weakest in 10 months. Employment trends also differed between the two monitored sectors in March, with service providers increasing their staffing levels while manufacturers cut their workforce numbers at the sharpest rate in seven months.

The rate of backlog depletion in the service sector quickened slightly since February, with a number of monitored companies noting increased efforts to clear unfinished workloads. Overall, the level of work-in-hand at the composite level increased slightly.

Average input prices continued to fall sharply at manufacturing companies in March, while service sector firms noted a further rise in cost burdens. However, the rate of inflation seen by service sector companies was only marginal and much slower than the series average. Meanwhile, average cost burdens at the composite level declined for the seventh month in a row.

“Service sector companies took a more cautious approach to hiring, raising their staff numbers only slightly over the month, while job shedding accelerated across the manufacturing sector. Meanwhile, deflationary pressures appeared to ease slightly in March, with composite input and output prices both declining at slower rates,” Fiddes said.

The material has been provided by InstaForex Company –