"Combined with disappointing growth in the manufacturing and construction sectors, the meagre service sector expansion recorded in December is indicative of the economy growing by just 0.1%.in the closing quarter of 2018", Mr Williamson said.
'It is likely that the recent slowdown is attributable to the impact of the uncertain economic outlook on buyer sentiment, given that it has occurred against a backdrop of solid employment growth, stronger wage growth and continued low borrowing costs, ' Chief Economist at Nationwide Robert Gardner said. The latest upturn in staffing levels was only marginal and the weakest recorded for nearly two-and-a-half years.
"The PMI data disappointed again in December, indicating the continuation of only a modest rate of underlying growth across Germany's private sector". December's decrease was the 3rd in as many months and the steepest since November 2014.
One mildly encouraging spot of news came from the Italian survey, which indicated that private-sector activity unexpectedly stopped shrinking last month as the services sector grew at the fastest pace in three months. The latest reading was the lowest for three months and signalled a marginal reduction in post-production inventories.
The survey suggests that concerns over Britain's departure from the European Union affected businesses' spending plans toward the end of a year ago, while consumer demand was more subdued, which hit sales.
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Companies forecasting growth linked this to expected success resulting from new product launches, entering new markets, investment in equipment and planned expansions of salesforces.
Although manufacturers maintained a positive outlook for output in 12 months' time, the degree of confidence was only slightly above November's 27-month low.
Some survey respondents noted that reduced supply chain pressures had lessened the need to build up safety stocks in December. The final quarterly average of 2018 matched that seen in the third quarter at 54.7.
Factory gate price inflation slowed for the second month running and reached its lowest point since March, according to the seasonally adjusted Output Prices Index. This was the first reduction since February 2016.
Today, the U.S. jobs report is projected to show 180,000 net hires in December, the lowest median projection ahead of the report in nearly a year.