April 5, 2017 / 7:48 AM / 5 months ago

Italy's service sector growth slows in March, PMI shows

A barman serves Kimbo espresso coffees at the Eataly motorway restaurant on highway in Modena, Central Italy, May 30, 2016.Stefano Rellandini

ROME, (Reuters) - Italy's service sector grew more slowly in March than in February, when it expanded at its fastest pace in more than a year, a survey showed on Wednesday.

The Markit/ADACI Business Activity Index for services companies fell to 52.9 from 54.1 the month before, staying above the 50 mark that separates growth from contraction. In February, the index registered its highest reading since December 2015.

The index was below the median forecast of 54.2 in a Reuters poll of 13 analysts.

The sub-index for new work at businesses ranging from insurers to hairdressers declined to 54.3 from 55.2 in February.

But Markit's sister survey for manufacturing, released on Monday, rose at its fastest rate in six years in March.

The composite PMI for services and manufacturing edged down to 54.2 from 54.8.

Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni's government is forecasting economic growth of 1.0 percent in 2017, slightly above last year's rate of 0.9 percent.

Detailed PMI data are only available under licence from Markit and customers need to apply to Markit for a licence.

Reporting by Steve Scherer, editing by Larry King

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