Russia's service sector growth loses momentum in Dec - PMI

MOSCOW, Dec 31 (Reuters) - Activity in Russia’s service sector expanded at the slowest pace in four months in December, despite a rise in new business, the Markit purchasing managers index (PMI) showed on Tuesday.

The index’s headline figure declined to 53.1 from 55.6 in November but remained well above the 50 mark that separates growth in activity from contractions.

“Business activity growth lost momentum at the end of 2019. Greater competition reportedly weighed on the upturn, with firms reining in their hiring activity in turn,” said Sian Jones, an economist at IHS Markit.

Still, service sector companies registered a fourth consecutive monthly rise in employment, linking the job creation to higher business requirements, the monthly survey showed.

“More intense competition also resulted in service providers struggling to pass on higher costs to clients, with selling prices rising at one of the slowest paces for over a year,” Jones said.

Output expectations remained muted, but firms predicted an increase in business activity over the next year, in line their peers from the manufacturing business.

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For further information, please phone Markit on +44 20 7260 2454 or email (Reporting by Andrey Ostroukh; Editing by Hugh Lawson)