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Markit says that the UK service sector returned to growth in August, according to PMI® survey data from IHS Markit and CIPS. Following abrupt contractions in output and new business in July linked to disruption related to the outcome of the EU referendum, the latest data signalled a return to growth as companies reported that uncertainty had abated somewhat. Moreover, the forward-looking business expectations index recovered most of the ground lost in July when confidence took a knock from the Brexit vote amid political and economic uncertainty, albeit remaining weak by historical standards.
The latest data also signalled rising inflationary pressure linked to the weak pound. The survey's headline figure is the seasonally adjusted Markit/CIPS UK Services Business Activity Index, a single-figure measure designed to track changes in total UK services activity compared with one month previously. Readings above 50.0 signal growth of activity compared with the previous month, and below 50.0 contraction.
The Business Activity Index rebounded to 52.9 in August, from 47.4 in July, signalling a rise in UK services output. The month-on-month gain in the index, at 5.5 points, was the largest observed over the 20-year survey history, following a record drop of 4.9 points in July. The rate of expansion in the latest period was the fastest since May, but weaker than the long-run survey average.
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