UK service sector growth 'remains subdued'
Growth in the UK's services sector picked up last month but remained "subdued", according to a survey.
The latest Markit/CIPS services Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) rose to 53.7 last month, up from February's near three-year low of 52.7.
A figure above 50 indicates expansion, but Markit said growth was "sluggish", with global economic uncertainty and the EU referendum affecting the sector.
Markit said the UK economy had slowed in the first quarter of the year.
Confidence 'in the doldrums'
The performance of the service sector is important for the UK as it accounts for more than three-quarters of the UK economy.
"An upturn in the pace of service sector growth in March was insufficient to prevent the PMI surveys from collectively indicating a slowdown in economic growth in the first quarter," said Chris Williamson, chief economist at Markit.
"The surveys point to a 0.4% increase in GDP, down from 0.6% in the closing quarter of last year.
"Business confidence remains in the doldrums as concerns about the global economy continue to be exacerbated by uncertainty at home, with nerves unsettled by issues such as Brexit and the prospect of further government spending cuts announced in the Budget," Mr Williamson added.
"It therefore seems unlikely that March's upturn in the pace of growth represents the start of a longer term upswing. In contrast, the survey data suggest growth is more likely to weaken further in the second quarter."
The Markit/CIPS survey found that growth in new business in the service sector during March hit the slowest pace since January 2013.