NEW DELHI — A key business index Wednesday showed India's service sector output expanding at its fastest rate in 16 months last month as the country shook off the impact of the global slowdown.
The strong performance of the sector, dominated by India's flagship software services outsourcing industry, was attributed to a sharp rise in new orders.
The HSBC India Services Purchasing Managers' Index posted a reading of 59.0 last month -- its highest since September 2008, just before the global slump hit Asia's third-largest economy.
A reading above 50 represents expansion while anything below points to a contraction.
"The index continued its march deeper into expansionary territory in January and is consistent with double-digit growth in India's services sector," said HSBC Asia economist Robert Prior-Wandesforde.
The index was the latest in a series of strong economic data released this week.
On Monday, a survey showed India's manufacturing activity expanded in January at its fastest pace in 17 months.
The HSBC Markit Purchasing Managers' Index climbed to 57.6 in January, as both domestic and export orders rose significantly from the previous month.
"Any lingering concern that India's manufacturing recovery was tailing off should be well and truly put to rest," said Prior-Wandesforde.
Also this week, figures showed exports rose for a second straight month in December, climbing 9.3 percent from a year earlier to hit 14.61 billion dollars.
The rebound in overseas sales suggests India's export sector has turned the corner after being hard hit by the worldwide downturn, economists said.
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