New Delhi: India's services sector expanded further in December registering the fastest pace of growth in three months - driven by a sharp rise in new business orders, an HSBC survey said.
The HSBC's Services Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) for December stood at 55.6, up from 52.1 in the previous month, signalling a sharp expansion in activity.
"The services sector provided some holiday cheer with activity fully recovering after two months of deceleration, led by a sharp rise in new business," HSBC Chief Economist for India and ASEAN Leif Eskesen said.
The index had witnessed significant decline in the previous two months -- October, November. It had registered the fastest pace of growth in seven months in September.
The index has remained above the 50-mark which indicates expansion since November 2011.
Going forward, service providers in India are optimistic about the business outlook. Around 46 percent of monitored companies expect overall activity to increase this year, and anticipate rises in demand, the launch of new projects and increased advertising, HSBC said.
Earlier, an HSBC survey had shown that India's manufacturing sector growth improved further in December, registering the fastest pace in six months, driven by a strong pick up in new orders.
Accordingly, the HSBC India Composite Output Index -- which maps both the manufacturing and services index -- stood at 56.3 in December, up from 53.2 in November, registering the fastest pace of expansion since February.
The report further noted that additional workload also led to a rise in outstanding business.
On prices, HSBC said inflation reading eased a little, as rates of input and output price inflation at private sector firms have declined.
"With growth showing signs of recovery and inflation still elevated, the case for a policy rate cut is not yet convincing. However, the RBI has clearly teed up for rate cuts in January-March," Eskesen said.
Inflation as measured by all indices has remained elevated and Wholesale Price Index-based inflation has remained above RBI's comfort zone of 5-5.5 percent for nearly three years now.
In the mid-quarter monetary policy review on December 18, RBI kept key interest rates unchanged.
It left the short-term lending (repo) rate and the cash reserve ratio - the amount of deposits banks have to park with RBI - unchanged at 8 percent and 4.25 percent, respectively.