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Japan’s service sector strengthened for a sixth consecutive month in March as demand continued to grow.

The Nikkei-Markit Japan Purchasing Managers’ Index for the services sector rose to 52.9 in March hitting a 19-month high and remaining above the threshold of 50 separating expansion from contraction. It was at a level of 51.3 in February.

Confidence was at its highest for almost a year and a wide range of companies reported improved demand for their services.

The composite reading, which combines the survey results of both the manufacturing and services sectors, strengthened in March to a 19-month high of 52.9.

Paul Smith, senior economist at IHS Markit said:

Growth is broad-based. Both the manufacturing and service sectors are enjoying upturns, supported by firm demand for goods and services. With capacity pressures subsequently intensifying, this is having a positive spillover into the labour market. Jobs continued to be added at a solid pace in March.

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