Britain’s services sector just had its worst quarter in 3 years

Britain’s services sector had its worst quarter of growth in three years in the first quarter of 2016, according to the latest Markit/CIPS PMI survey for the sector.

March’s data, released on Tuesday morning, showed that the services sector hit 53.7 last month, up from February’s 52.7 reading, but lower than the 54 expected by economists. That contributed to the worst quarter for services since the start of 2013. Here’s how that number looks as part of the long term trend.

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In a statement alongside the data, Markit said: “Total activity increased at a slightly faster rate than in February, but on a quarterly basis growth over the first three months of 2016 was the weakest since Q1 2013. Moreover, incoming new business increased at the slowest rate since January 2013.”

The weak UK numbers follow on from a poor set of global manufacturing data, along with PMIs from the eurozone, which showed that the economy of the single currency area is struggling to find a “significant gain in momentum”.

Here’s what Chris Williamson, Markit’s chief economist had to say about the UK data:

An upturn in the pace of service sector growth in March was insufficient to prevent the PMI surveys from collectively indicating a slowdown in economic growth in the first quarter. The surveys point to a 0.4% increase in GDP, down from 0.6% in the closing quarter of last year.

Across the three main sectors of the economy, firms reported the smallest increase in demand for just over three years, which in turn fed through to a reluctance to take on new staff. March saw the weakest rate of job creation for over two-and-a-half years.

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