U.S. services sector rebounds in January

Growth in Britain's services sector slowed for the first time in four months in January as businesses battled the sharpest rise in their costs in more than five years, a closely watched survey showed on Friday.

These higher costs are feeding through to higher selling prices, which will inevitably put upward pressure on consumer prices.

A PMI reading above 50 indicates an expansion in manufacturing activity, while a reading below that points to a contraction.

The services industry, which accounts for almost 80% of United Kingdom economic growth, saw activity decelerate for the first time in four months, while growth in new business and employment began to tail off.

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"Meanwhile, faster growth of new business and an upturn in confidence about the year ahead to the highest since the region's debt crisis bodes well for the robust pace of growth to be sustained in coming months", he added.

New business and employment in the sector, which accounts for over three-quarters of activity in the UK's economy, increased at a slower rate than expected in January.

Combined with drops in manufacturing and construction PMIs this week, the survey was consistent with quarterly growth slowing to 0.5 percent in early 2017 from 0.6 percent at the end of a year ago, Markit said, in line with the Bank of England's relatively upbeat growth forecasts released on Thursday.

He also said that an improvement in optimism among companies suggests the January slowdown could prove temporary.

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New business growth dropped from a 17-month high in December, though it remained at a healthy level rising for the sixth consecutive month, while outstanding work fell for the first time in three months, though only marginally.

IHS Market chief European and United Kingdom economist Howard Archer added: "While these are surveys rather than hard data and not too much should be read into one month's figures, it nevertheless fuels our suspicion that the United Kingdom economy will find life increasing difficult during 2017 and that growth will gradually lose buoyancy like a slow puncture".

"While these are surveys rather than hard data and not too much should be read into one month's figures, it nevertheless fuels our suspicion that the United Kingdom economy will find life increasingly difficult during 2017 and that growth will gradually lose buoyancy like a slow puncture". That would compare with an official estimate that GDP expanded 0.6% in the final quarter of 2016.

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