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Global business growth picks up in March despite price rises: PMI

[LONDON] Global business activity accelerated at its fastest pace in six months in March, prompting firms to increase headcount at the sharpest rate since the middle of last year, a survey showed on Tuesday.

JPMorgan's Global All-Industry Output Index, produced with Markit, jumped to 54.8 in March from February's 53.9. It has been above the 50 mark that divides growth from contraction since October 2012.

"The global all-industry PMI points to an acceleration of global GDP growth through the opening quarter of 2015," said David Hensley, a director at JPMorgan.

"Moreover, with new orders strengthening and job creation improving, gains in economic activity looks likely to be sustained in the current quarter."

An index measuring employment rose to a nine-month high of 52.0 from 51.8 as firms took on workers to meet growing demand. Customers ordered more goods and services despite prices rising for a second month.

A global PMI covering the service industry rose to a six-month high of 55.1 from February's 54.1. Global manufacturing growth pulled back slightly in March a sister survey showed last week.

The indicator, produced by JPMorgan with research and supply management organisations, combines survey data from around 20 countries including the United States, Japan, Germany, France, Britain, China and Russia.