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Financial News: UK Private Sector Growth Remains Solid In March

UK Private Sector Growth Remains Solid In March

03/21/2024 - 08:05:00 (RTTNews)

(RTTNews) - The UK private sector activity continued to expand strongly in March, underpinned by another robust upturn in the services activity, flash survey results from S&P Global showed on Thursday.

The composite output index dropped slightly to 52.9 in March from 53.0 in February. The score was expected to rise to 53.1.

However, a reading above 50.0 indicates expansion in the private sector.

The overall growth in Mach was largely attributed to increasing business activity in the service economy.

Service sector growth was quicker than that seen in the manufacturing sector, despite losing momentum in March.

The services Purchasing Managers' Index, or PMI, dropped to a 3-month low of 53.4 in March from 53.8 in February.

At the same time, the manufacturing PMI rose to a 20-month high of 49.9 from 47.5 in February, indicating nearly a stabilisation in March.

Total new business received by the UK private sector rose for the fourth straight month, though the rate of growth eased due to a slight loss of momentum in the service economy.

Despite a sustained rebound in business activity and incoming new work, private sector employment stagnated in March. This was attributed to cautious hiring strategies amid strong cost pressures, especially in the service sector.

On the price front, input price inflation remained sharp, with the rate of inflation being the second-fastest since August 2023. As a result, output charges rose at the fastest rate for eight months in March.

"While the headline rate of inflation looks likely to cool in the months ahead, March's PMI warns of elevated underlying price pressures, which will likely add to calls for restraint in any pivot to lower interest rates until there are firm signs of lower wage growth," Chris Williamson, chief business economist at S&P Global, said.

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