UK services PMI rebounds to 51.2 in December, a big beat

The services sector activity in the UK economy rebounded more than expected in the month of December, a fresh report from Markit Economics showed on Friday.

The services PMI jumped to 51.2 in December versus a 50.4 reading booked in November. Markets predicted 50.7 last month.

Key Points:

Modest rises in business activity and new work.

Job creation eases to 29-month low.

Business confidence at second-lowest level since 2009.

Chris Williamson, Chief Business Economist at IHS Markit, which compiles the survey:

“The service sector typically plays a major role in driving economic growth, but is now showing worrying signs of having lost steam amid intensifying Brexit anxiety. The final two months of 2018 saw the weakest back-to-back expansions of business activity since late-2012 and highlight how clarity on Brexit is needed urgently in order to prevent the economy sliding into contraction.”

“Combined with disappointing growth in the manufacturing and construction sectors, the meagre service sector expansion recorded in December is indicative of the economy growing by just the closing quarter of 2018.”

“Although increased preparations for a potentially disruptive ‘no deal’ Brexit are helping to boost business activity in some cases, notably in manufacturing, heightened Brexit uncertainty is compounding a broader economic slowdown. Measured across all sectors, business optimism is down to the third-lowest since comparable data were first available in 2012.”

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