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US and UK Services Sectors Recover While Eurozone Services Continue to Fall
May 6, 2003

The US and UK services sectors reported a slight growth in business activity in April according to the ISM and CIPS-Reuters reports issued yesterday. The US non-manufacturing index of business activity tracked by the Institute of Supply Management indicated that business activity showed a slight recovery after the reading for April was 50.7, up from 47.9 in March. The Chartered Instituted of Purchasing and Supply-Reuters reported that the UK service sector index of business activity registered positive growth after the April reading was also 50.7, up from 49 in March. In turn, the Eurozone index of service activity reported by NTC Research for April was 47.7 that indicates no change in the level of business activity from March. Thus Service sector activity in the Eurozone now records three consecutive months of contracted activity and the April and March readings constitute a record sixteen-month low level. Indexes of business activity report contractions when levels stand bellow the 50 percent threshold.

In the US, the industries nine sectors reported increased business activity, six sectors reported decreased activity, and one reported no change in activity compared to March. The industries reporting the highest rates of growth of business activity in April were Insurance, Transportation, Utilities, Real Estate, and Retail Trade. The service industries reporting the highest rates of contraction of business activity in April were Wholesale Trade, Other Services, Communications, and the Public Administration.

In the Euro area, Germany exhibited the strongest contraction in April, although the rate of decline was not as strong as the levels observed in March. Meanwhile, Spain saw a marked increase in the rate of contraction, reaching an all time low, while Italy saw itís service sector activity fall for the first time in seventeen months. Of the big four Eurozone countries, only France reported growth of service sector activity, although the growth rate is beginning to decrease.

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