Activity in Britain’s dominant services sector eked out a small rebound last month, positioning the UK economy for 0.3% growth in the third quarter.
The closely watched Markit/CIPS services purchasing managers’ index (PMI) rose to 53.8 in July, up from a four-month low of 53.4 in June and slightly above economists’ expectations of 53.6.
A reading above 50 indicates growth.
The powerhouse industry, which accounts for around 78% of the UK economy, experienced sluggish output growth as the amount of new work failed to match levels seen earlier in the year.
However, the lacklustre performance did not stop employers from taking on more staff, with job creation seeing its strongest growth for a year-and-a-half.
It comes as Britain’s factories enjoyed a welcome bounce-back in July thanks to the strongest surge in export orders for more than seven years, while the construction industry endured a shock slowdown as commercial building eased.
Chris Williamson, chief business economist at IHS Markit, said firms were still in “expansion mode” despite political uncertainty dogging the outlook for the industry.