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Live news: UK and eurozone activity slows as Omicron spreads

Euro-zone activity slowed after restrictions to deal with rising coronavirus infections hit the services sector, as signs emerged that supply bottlenecks were easing, a study finds.

The Eurozone IHS Markit flash composite purchasing managers’ index, a monthly poll that measures the pulse of business activity, fell more than most economists had expected in December, reaching a nine-month low of 53.4, from 55.4 in the previous month. month.

A number of countries have recently announced stricter corona measures, including Germany, Italy, Austria and the Netherlands. The restrictions are reducing the flow of customers in the service sector, especially at restaurants and retail outlets.

While the PMI score for the services sector remained above 50, indicating that a majority of companies are reporting higher activity levels than a month ago, the slowdown in services growth was stronger than for manufacturing, according to IHS.

Companies reported an improvement in global supply chain issues that have led to backlogs in factories, congestion at ports and shortages of materials, leading manufacturers to report the biggest increase in production since September.

“The eurozone economy is taking another hit from Covid-19,” said Chris Williamson, chief economist at IHS Markit.

German companies reported a stagnation in activity and their first decline in new orders for goods and services since June 2020, as the PMI score fell to an 18-month low of 50.

The picture was brighter in France, where companies reported a slight slowdown in growth and IHS Markit said that “a relatively resilient services sector helped offset a decline in industrial production for the second time in the past three months”.

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