UK and US data put a weekend smile on our faces

For once, some good news from the world of economic metrics. The US unemployment figures continue to fall, and the UK services sector has hit an eight-month high.

by Michael Northcott
Last Updated: 19 Aug 2013

The latest data from research firm Markit show that the UK services sector grew at its fastest for eight months, thanks to dramatic sales growth. The sales growth was driven mainly by the fastest increase in new business since last May, which meant that firms increased headcount by a ‘modest’ amount. 

Chris Williamson, Markit’s chief economist, said: ‘The upturn is being led by the service sector, but it has been accompanied by signs of activity stabilising in manufacturing and construction in April. 

‘Business activity increased for the fourth month running. The data suggest that the return to growth enjoyed by the economy in the first quarter persisted and may have gained momentum at the start of the second quarter.’ 

If he’s right then 2013 could finally yield the more encouraging growth that everyone’s been yearning for so long. Especially since manufacturing beat forecasts on Thursday, and constriction output rose more than expected, too.

The stats across the Pond are looking encouraging, too – the famous ‘non-farm payroll figures’. There were 165,000 new US jobs in April, which beat analyst expectations of 148,000. Total unemployment fell to a four-year low of 7.5%. 

There have been fears that the US was about to face another sharp slowdown, but no-one was expecting the sudden drop in the number of people out of work, so this is good news indeed.

The US Department of Labor said the increases were felt across professional and business services, food, drink, retail in general and healthcare. All of this suggests that there hasn’t been some blip such as sudden hiring spree in one buoyant sector.

So a good haul of results for two of the world’s biggest economies. Here’s hoping the good streak continues. 

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