KAMPALA, April 26 (Reuters) - Private sector activity in Uganda expanded in March compared to the previous month, with companies reporting a boost in production and sales volumes, the inaugural results of a new survey index showed on Wednesday.
The Markit Stanbic Bank Uganda Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) rose to 53.5 last month, up from 50.9 in February, the survey report said. Markit collected data for 10 months prior to launching the PMI.
"Companies reported increases in both output and new orders for the second straight month in March," the report said, adding higher activity was reported in a range of sectors including agriculture, industry, services and wholesale and retail.
The findings of the survey offer a glimmer of hope after Uganda's central bank said overall economic expansion is slowing.
This month, policymakers cut the benchmark lending rate by 50 basis points to 11 percent to speed up private sector credit flow and boost flagging growth.
The new Markit Stanbic survey found hiring by firms was also rising on the back of the higher orders.
"Staffing levels rose in the agriculture, services and wholesale and retail sectors," the survey said.
The east African economy, which mostly relies on coffee for its foreign exchange needs, is expected to begin crude oil production in 2020.
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For further information, please phone Markit on +44 20 72602454 or email email@example.com (Reporting by Elias Biryabarema; Editing by Catherine Evans)