UK service sector expands in February

City A.M. Reporter

THE UK service sector expanded more strongly than forecast in February, rising at its fastest pace in five months, a key survey showed this morning.

The Markit/CIPS Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) for the service sector inched up to 51.8 last month from 51.5 in January, beating expectations.

The sector's second consecutive month above the 50 line denoting growth contrasted with a surprise contraction in UK manufacturing last month. The country's construction sector also shrank in February.

Including retailers and the public sector – which are not covered in Markit's survey – the service sector accounts for more than three-quarters of UK GDP.

The survey covers transport, storage and communication, financial intermediation, business services, personal services, computing and IT, and hotels and restaurants.

“So far, the PMIs suggest that the economy will have grown by 0.1 per cent in the first quarter, barely making up for any of the 0.3 per cent decline seen in the final quarter of last year,” said Markit’s chief economist Chris Williamson this morning.