Italy Services Growth Strongest Since July 2007

Services sector

The IHS Markit/CIPS UK Services purchasing managers' index fell to 53 last month from 54.2 in December, below economist expectations of 54.1.

A new business sub-index that tracks overall demand jumped to 51.7 from 50.0 in December, the first sign of growth in three months.

IHS Markit said the January data showed that the upturn was relatively broad-based, with five of the seven countries covered by the survey reporting an improvement in business conditions, up from four at the end of 2017.

He said: "Service sector expansion slid to a 16-month low, reflecting a marked waning in growth of demand for business and consumer-facing services such as hotels and restaurants".

The dominant services sector undershot expectations in January, confirming an impression of a slowing wider United Kingdom economy in early 2018.

Recent strong economic data boosted hopes that the Bank of England (BoE) would be pressured into raising interest rates again in the near-term, but this month's trio of below-forecast PMIs has derailed upbeat hopes for the United Kingdom economy and softened the chances of interest rate hikes this year.

But businesses polled said a sustained rise in sales, acquisitions and new offerings helped drive output expansion last month - ultimately helping to keep the PMI reading above 50.

Combined with last week's weaker-than-expected surveys for the manufacturing and construction sectors, Monday's report suggested the world's sixth-biggest economy grew last month at its slowest pace since shortly after the Brexit vote in 2016.

United Overseas Bank (Malaysia) Bhd senior economist Julia Goh said the improved PMI reading for Malaysia is in tandem with the gains across most regional PMI readings in January.

The composite PMI in the Eurozone - which combines all the major sector's PMI surveys -rose to 58.8 in January from 58.1.in December, above the consensus and initial estimate, 58.6. Inflation and interest rate expectations that shift erratically are bad for economies and markets.

'Today's data takes some pressure off the Bank of England to hike rates later this year.

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