03 May 2007 | Antony Barton
New business and increased market share led to continued growth of activity in the services sector last month.
The CIPS/RBS Purchasing Managers' Index for March, where a figure above 50 represents growth, fell slightly from 57.6 to 57.2 and represented the weakest rate of expansion for seven months.
But volumes of new business rose again, reaching 57.0 and extending the period of growth to four consecutive years. Companies said this was due to higher demand, investment in new business areas and increased marketing expenditure.
Input costs and output charges rose at their weakest rates in four months, reaching 58.6 and 53.9 respectively. Yet higher wage and energy bills meant input price inflation remained sharp.
Employment continued to rise but, down to 52.5 from 53.6 last month, the rate of job creation eased for the fourth month running and reached its lowest level since March last year.
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