Brexit uncertainty blamed for UK slowdown at start of 2018

LONDON — A closely monitored assessment of the U.K.'s services sector, by far the main engine of the wider economy, is showing that Brexit uncertainty is starting to bite once again.

Financial information company IHS Markit and the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply said their monthly purchasing managers' index — which surveys manufacturing, construction and services — fell to 53.2 points in January. That's down from 54.7 in December and is the lowest since August 2016.

Despite the retreat, the index is still pointing to growth, as anything above 50 indicates expansion.

Brexit uncertainty was blamed for the decline, particularly in the services sector.

Britain is due to leave the EU in March 2019 but there's concern over what that will entail for the U.K. economy.

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