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India's Service Sector Falls At Historic Pace In April

India's service sector logged its record fall in April as measures to stem the spread of the coronavirus caused output and demand to fall at unprecedented rates, survey results from IHS Markit showed Wednesday.

The services Purchasing Managers' Index plunged to 5.4 in April from 49.3 in March. The score signaled the most severe contraction in output since records began in 2005.

Activity fell severely as a result of the nationwide lockdown, leading businesses to shut down their operations as demand collapsed.

Demand for services fell at the sharpest rate in over 14 years of data collection. The historically marked decline in new orders led to a large rise in spare capacity.
Due to lower business, some services companies reduced employment.

Looking ahead, latest survey data signaled a further erosion of business confidence. Expectations towards future output slumped for a second successive month to their weakest since December 2015.

Indian service providers recorded a sharp drop in operating costs which was the strongest since data collection began in December 2005. Consequently, firms were able to reduce their fees in an effort to stimulate sales.

At 7.2, the composite output index sank to a new record low from 50.6 in March as the downturn was severe across both sectors in April.

Historical comparisons with GDP data suggest that India's economy contracted at an annual rate of 15 percent in April, Joe Hayes, an economist at IHS Markit, said.

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