TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's services sector expanded in February at the slowest rate in three months, yet still created jobs at the strongest pace in nearly four years, a survey showed on Friday.
The Markit/Nikkei Japan Services Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) slipped to a seasonally adjusted 51.3 in February from 51.9 in January.
The index remained above the 50 threshold, which separates expansion from contraction, for the fifth consecutive month.
February's index for new business was 53.0, barely changed from January's 53.1. Last month was the seventh straight with growth in new orders.
The index for outstanding business slipped to 50.2 in February from 51.3 the previous month.
Employment in the sector, which declined most of 2016's second half, rose at the fastest rate since May 2013, according to the survey. January also brought more service jobs, but the increase was at a slower pace.
Services account for around two-thirds of Japan's gross domestic product, so expansion in that sector could help overall economic growth.
Reporting by Stanley White; Editing by Richard Borsuk
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