[BERLIN] Growth in Germany's private sector slowed in April to the lowest level in nearly a year, a survey showed on Wednesday, as an upturn in the manufacturing industry was not enough to compensate a slowdown in services.
Markit's final composite Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI), tracking activity in manufacturing and services that together account for more than two-thirds of the economy, fell to 53.6 from 54.0 in March.
That was the weakest reading since last May, but still comfortably above the 50 mark that separates expansion from contraction, suggesting Europe's largest economy remains robust despite growing concerns about a global economic slowdown.
However, the lower PMI headline figure signalled that the German economy is likely to grow at a slower pace in the second quarter than in the first three months of the year, Markit economist Oliver Kolodseike said.
Leading economic institutes have estimated that GDP grew by 0.6 per cent on the quarter from January to March this year after 0.3 per cent on the quarter from October to December last year.
The Federal Statistics Office will publish preliminary GDP data for the first quarter on May 13.
The German economy grew by 1.7 per cent in 2015, mainly helped by private consumption and higher state spending, and the government predicts the same rate of expansion for 2016.
The PMI sub-index for services fell to a six-month low of 54.5 in April from 55.1 in March, but this was still above the average for the current 35-month period of continuous growth.
Services providers continued to hire staff although the rate of job creation was the weakest in a year, Markit said.
The sub-index for manufacturing, which was published on Monday, showed factory activity rose to a three-month high in April, buoyed by rising demand at home and abroad.