Russian service activity moves up as sector adds jobs

Meanwhile, the German stock index DAX Index traded 0.31 percent lower at 12,242.75 by 08:50 GMT, while at 08:00GMT, the FxWirePro's Hourly Euro Strength Index remained neutral at 0.90 (a reading above +75 indicates a bullish trend, while that below -75 a bearish trend).

A sister survey on Monday showed expansion in manufacturing activity.

However, the service PMI survey showed new business growth picked up to a three-month high in March and it was reported that the weaker pound had led to increased enquiries and demand for United Kingdom services from overseas, especially the US.

Besides, the seasonally adjusted Nikkei India Composite PMI Output Index also rose during the month in consideration to 52.3, from 50.7 in February, signalling consolidation in the first increase in private sector output last month after October.

Although the pace of new hiring increased only slightly, it was at the fastest pace in almost two years after firms cut headcount in February.

"The surveys sub-indices, particularly the new orders and future activity indices, were reassuringly robust too".

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However, the survey also found some reports of cheaper sterling driving new business for exporters from overseas, while demand improved in particular from the US.

Higher workloads forced service providers to raise their workforce numbers in March. Some firms note that squeezed margins and rising wage bills had led to the non-replacement of voluntary leavers. Survey respondents noted that the resilient economic backdrop and receding Brexit-related anxieties had helped to stabilize client demand after the disruption to development projects last summer. By comparison, work-in-hand at goods producers rose at the weakest pace in three months.

Expectations dipped to a four-month low, but services firms remained upbeat about prospects. That was still above the final 55.5 figure for February and was the highest since May 2011.

'With input cost inflation still close to February's eight and a half year peak, higher prices are likely to trickle further down the supply chain to consumers. This is linked to a general increase in market prices for raw materials and higher fuel prices.

Williamson said the latest numbers back the argument that the Bank of England should keep policy on hold as it balances accelerating inflation against maintaining demand after the United Kingdom started formal Brexit talks last week.

Nominations are now open for the British Small Business Awards 2017, the leading event celebrating the brightest stars in the SME sector.

  • Myrtle Hill