Britain's powerhouse services sector falls for the first time in four months

Reflecting robust expansions in both manufacturing and service sector activities, the Nikkei Composite Output Index posted at 52.3 for January 2017, slightly down from 52.8 in December 2016, signalling a solid expansion in overall output at private sector firms in Japan. Any number above 50 indicates growth.

At 4:30 am ET Friday, U.K. Markit/CIPS services PMI data for January is due.

The Bank said that it expected households to moderate their consumption more gradually in the face of rising inflation, brought on by the plunge in the pound since last June's vote, than previously thought and for the household savings ratio to fall to its lowest level since at least the early 1960s.

IHS Markit said the figures suggest 0.4% GDP growth for the first quarter, a figure largely in-line with estimates for the final three months of a year ago.

The PMI report, which covers firms making up about 50% of the economy, suggested that companies' costs were rising at the fastest rate since March 2011 with pressure from more expensive imports, higher fuel and freight prices and bigger wage bills.

The Markit Russia Services Business Activity Index rose to 58.4. from 56.5 in December.

IHS Market chief European and United Kingdom economist Howard Archer added: "While these are surveys rather than hard data and not too much should be read into one month's figures, it nevertheless fuels our suspicion that the United Kingdom economy will find life increasing difficult during 2017 and that growth will gradually lose buoyancy like a slow puncture".

Orders increased for the sixth straight month, but the rate of growth slowed from December. That would compare with an official estimate that GDP expanded 0.6% in the final quarter of 2016. "The upturn at goods producers combined with a slowdown in the contraction of services activity resulted in only a fractional drop in private sector output".

  • Eleanor Harrison