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Spain's services continued to expand in March, according to a survey published on Wednesday, with activity growing at a similar rate to February's 18-month highs and pointing to strong economic growth in the first quarter.
Markit's Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) of service companies stood at 57.4 in March, down slightly from 57.7 in February. That marked the index's 41st straight month above the 50 line separating growth from contraction.
"Given the historical relationship between the PMI data and gross domestic product, we are likely to see a pick-up in the rate of growth in first quarter from the 0.7 percent increase recorded at the end of 2016," said Andrew Harker, senior economist at Markit.
The Bank of Spain said on Monday it expected quarterly growth of 0.8 percent in the first quarter (Full Story).
Services provide around half of total economic activity in Spain.
The Markit survey also noted that business expectations rose to 74.1 in March from 73.1 in February, reaching their highest level since December 2015.
Detailed PMI data are only available under licence from Markit and customers need to apply to Markit for a licence.