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Services sector sluggish at year end

Services sector sluggish at year end

Jan 28 (BusinessDesk) - The services sector is treading water, with the latest BNZ-Business New Zealand Performance of Services Index falling 2.7 points to 51.5 in December from its November levels, which in turn were 3.6 points down on October's outcome.

The result mirrors ambiguous readings from the Performance of Manufacturing Index last week, which like the PSI remained in positive territory, but gave mixed signals about business conditions.

Over 2012, the PSI averaged 53.8, with all but one month (August) in expansion. Compared to previous December results, the 2012 value was almost identical with 2011.

“When comparing the PSI with its sister survey the PMI, the service sector has held up despite another difficult trading year," said Business NZ chief executive Phil O'Reilly. "However, 2012 has ended with more of a whimper than a bang."

BNZ senior economist Craig Ebert said the most positive element of the December result was ongoing evidence of hiring intentions.

“The PSI staffing index is decently above the line," he said.. "When combined with other pointers to jobs across the economy, we have good reason to believe employment growth is in the throes of picking up, perhaps to as much as 2% for 2013 as a whole. This would amount to an addition of about 45,000 jobs.”

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