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Japan’s service sector saw growth in business activity eased in April after seven straight months of acceleration, with both input and output prices rising at a slower rate and companies reporting only marginal employment growth, according to an industry-wide survey.

The Nikkei-Markit purchasing managers’ index for Japan’s services sector eased to 52.2 in April, down from March’s 19-month high of 52.9 but holding comfortably above the 50-point mark separating expansion from contraction.

New business growth weakened to the lowest level since November as employment growth rose only marginally last month. While input prices rose for a 54th consecutive month, growth decelerated for a third month running to the lowest level since October and more than 93 per cent of companies reported no change in the prices they charged to clients.

Business confidence remained fairly robust, however, as companies’ expectations for the coming 12 months fell only slightly from March’s 11-month high.

The corresponding manufacturing PMI came in at 52.7 in April. The composite reading, which combines the results of the two gauges, dipped last month to 52.6 from a 19-month high of 52.9 in March.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017. All rights reserved.

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