Services growth slows in February: Markit
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[February 25, 2014]
NEW YORK (Reuters) — Growth in the
services sector as well as the pace of hiring slowed in February, an
industry report showed on Monday, the latest data to suggest an
unusually cold winter is dragging on economic activity.
Financial data firm Markit said its "flash" or preliminary services
sector purchasing managers index slipped to 52.7 in February from
56.7 in January. A reading above 50 signals expansion in economic
Service sector employers continued adding staff, but at the slowest
pace in almost a year. At 52.0, down from 54.1 in January, the
employment component notched its lowest reading since March 2013.
"The unusually severe winter weather undoubtedly looks to have taken
its toll on the economy in the first quarter," said Chris
Williamson, Markit's chief economist.
A range of U.S. economic data have recently suggested that the cold
weather that's dumped snow across the country has hit economic
activity, from a slump in home building and sales to factory output.
"However, companies clearly remained in expansion mode, with just
over half of all firms expecting activity to rise over the coming
year against just 3 percent expecting a decline," Williamson added.
This month's preliminary composite PMI, a weighted average of
manufacturing and services indexes that was also reported by Markit
on Monday, fell to 53.5 from 56.2 in January.
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The employment component of that index slipped to 52.4 in February
from 53.9 in January, matching its level of November.
But backlogs of work grew, moving into expansion after having posted
a contraction in the previous month.
(Reporting by Luciana Lopez; editing by
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