Global Services Economy Moving at Two Speeds as Factories Thrive

U.S. services companies reported increased activity during February, aided by demand for new business, while service-sector firms in Europe and Japan saw deepening declines.

High Covid-19 infection rates at the start of the year prompted governments in the U.S., Europe and Japan to impose fresh restrictions on individuals and businesses. But the restrictions have varied and contributed to a divergence in global economic activity as the pandemic continues, particularly at businesses offering services that traditionally require close physical proximity.

Manufacturers, meanwhile, have recovered more evenly in different parts of the world.

February surveys of purchasing managers by data firm IHS Markit indicated the divergence between services and manufacturing became more pronounced for some economies, such as Japan and Germany, that have long been big exporters of manufactured goods.

In the U.S., service-sector companies reported increased demand, leading to a pickup in activity overall.

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