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Italy's service sector activity stagnates in February: PMI
[ROME] Italy's services sector stagnated in February after expanding in the previous month, data showed on Wednesday, underlining the fragility of the euro zone's third-biggest economy.
The Markit/ADACI Business Activity Index for services companies, fell to the 50.0 mark that separates expansion from contraction after an uptick to 51.2 the previous month.
The figure undershot all the forecasts in a Reuters survey of 12 analysts, which had pointed on average to a further rise to 51.4.
The new business sub-index contracted for the fourth month running but at a slower pace, registering 49.6 from 48.8 in January.
Despite the drop in orders, services firms started hiring staff for the first time in almost four years, the survey showed, and companies' business expectations hit their highest in 11 months.
Markit's composite PMI for services and manufacturing showed expansion slowing, to 51.0 from 51.2 in January.
Italy's economy is forecast to return to growth this year after three years of stagnation and recession. Prime Minister Matteo Renzi is pushing an ambitious package of structural reforms which he says can aid a recovery.