UK Services Sector Ends Two-And-a-Half Year Expansion – IHS

Press Release
Business activity across the UK service sector fell in March, ending a sustained expansion of more than two-and-a-half years, fresh data from a closely-watched survey showed on Wednesday morning.The headline seasonally adjusted IHS Markit/CIPS UK Services PMI Business Activity Index posted a reading of 48.9 in March, down from 51.3 in February, below the 50.0 no-change mark for the first time since July 2016, according to a statement from IHS Markit. The survey which the index reading is derived from is based on responses from 650 service sector companies.

Aside from the brief dip seen after a referendum in the UK to leave the European Union in June 2016, the latest reading was the joint-weakest seen over the past decade, equaling the previous low point recorded in December 2012, the IHS report noted.

Backlogs among service providers in the UK have now decreased for six months running, the longest period of decline since early 2013. Average prices charged by service providers increased only marginally, with the rate of inflation the slowest since June 2017. IHS said a number of firms suggested in their survey responses that subdued demand conditions had led to squeezed margins and pressure to match discounting by competitors.

One relatively bright spot amid the gloom was employment numbers, which were up slightly in March, but the rate of expansion was softer than seen on average in 2018. Additionally, the overall rate of input price inflation was unchanged from February’s nine-month low.

“A drop in service sector activity indicates that UK GDP [gross domestic product] contracted in March, with the economy stalling over the first quarter as a whole and at risk of sliding into a deepening downturn in coming months,” Chris Williamson, chief business economist at IHS Markit, said in the report. “Both the services and construction sectors are now in decline and manufacturing is only expanding because of emergency stockpiling ahead of Brexit.”

This post was originally published on Health Opinion

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