March 5, 2018 / 6:49 AM / in 8 months

Russian services expand in February on solid demand: PMI

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Activity in Russia’s services increased in February as stronger demand boosted new orders, the Markit purchasing managers index (PMI) showed on Monday.

The index’s headline figure rose to 56.5 in February from 55.1 in January, remaining above the 50 mark that separates expansion from contraction since February 2016.

In response to rising demand, services expanded their workforce at the fastest pace since late 2012, the survey showed.

“Panelists commonly linked the upturn in hiring to greater capacity requirements, despite the level of outstanding business declining for the third month running,” said Sian Jones, an economist at IHS market, which compiles the data.

Business confidence remained robust among services, with the degree of optimism among polled companies reaching its second-highest level since July 2011, slightly below January’s multi-year peak.

Panelists linked their expectations to the rising number of customers and increased business activity.

The services PMI report contrasted with the report on manufacturing activity published last week. The manufacturing PMI survey showed activity rose in February at its slowest pace since mid-2016.

Reporting by Polina Nikolskaya; editing by Andrey Ostroukh, Larry King

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