United Kingdom services sector undershoots expectations in January hinting at slowing wider economy

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A number above 50 indicates expansion, while a figure below that points to contraction.

The sector drew a reading of 53 in January, down from 54.2 in December and lower than the expected 54.3, according to IHS Markit's latest purchasing managers index (PMI). The headline PMI rose from 49.9 in December to 50.2 in January this year.

But Zhong Zhengsheng, director of macroeconomic analysis at CEBM Group, a subsidiary of Caixin Insight Group, suggested that downside risks remain due to signs of moderating demand for manufactured products and rising costs that weigh on service companies. Having been the strongest in four years in November, input price inflation stabilized at a relatively weak level in January, while businesses increased their charges at a slightly faster rate.

New orders placed with French services companies reached the highest in over 6-1/2 years, with panellists attributing the rise to higher client demand, lower interest rates and business investment.

Commenting on the Indian Services PMI survey data, Aashna Dodhia, Economist at IHS Markit, and author of the report, said: "The recovery across India's service sector continued during January, with growth in output picking up to the joint-strongest since June 2017 as underlying demand conditions improved".

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The UK services sector grew at its slowest pace in January since the aftermath of the European Union referendum as the economy got off to a sluggish start in 2018.

The manufacturing PMI dipped to 51.3 in January, the lowest since May a year ago, while the non-manufacturing PMI rose for the third straight month to 55.3. Moreover, the rate of job creation edged up to a five-month high.

United Kingdom stocks tumbled on Monday as a strong U.S.jobs report reinforced the Fed's outlook for three interest-rate hikes this year and investors looked ahead to a new round of talks between the United Kingdom and European Union starting Tuesday.

According to IHS Markit, the Asean manufacturing economy also started 2018 on a positive note, with the Nikkei Asean Manufacturing PMI indicating a return to growth in January after a subdued end to previous year.

"Brexit blame has emerged once again as the reason for the slowdown in growth of services activity.as consumers reined in spending and displayed anxieties about the future", said Duncan Brock of the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply.