Investing.com - Activity in the U.K. service sector dipped in February, according to data released on Wednesday, but growth remained robust with firms hiring staff at the fastest rate in nearly 16 years last month.
The Markit U.K. services purchasing managers’ index for February came in at 58.2. It was the lowest reading in eight months, but was little changed from January’s reading of 58.1 and was ahead of forecasts for a decline to 58.0.
Orders rose more quickly and optimism about the economic outlook for the coming year hit its highest level for four-and-a-half years.
As well as reporting rising employment levels in the sector and an increase in new business, the employment index for the all-sector PMI rose to a series high in February.
"The brightening outlook has prompted firms to take on staff at a rate not seen before over the PMI surveys'' 16-year history," said Markit''s chief economist Chris Williamson.
Markit said that companies expected the economic recovery to be maintained, with firms planning to raise investment in marketing and in growing their businesses.
“Alongside vibrant growth in manufacturing and construction, the upbeat picture of the services economy points to the country enjoying another quarter of robust economic growth of approximately 0.7%,” Chris Williamson said.