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Growth in the UK's crucial services sector remained "subdued" in March, according to a closely watched survey.

The Markit/CIPS purchasing managers index (PMI) score rose to 53.7 last month, up from the three-year low of 52.7 in February. Any figure above 50 indicates growth.

Looking at the first three months of the 2016, growth was at its weakest since the first quarter of 2013. And new business grew at the slowest rate since January 2013.

The services sector is vital for the British economy, accounting for roughly 75% of GDP. The figures for the first three months suggest economic growth in the first quarter is likely to be 0.4%, down from 0.6% in the final quarter of 2015, Markit said.

Chris Williamson, chief economist at Markit, said: "An upturn in the pace of service sector growth in March was insufficient to prevent the PMI surveys from collectively indicating a slowdown in economic growth in the first quarter."

He added: "Business confidence remains in the doldrums as concerns about the global economy continue to be exacerbated by uncertainty at home, with nerves unsettled by issues such as Brexit and the prospect of further government spending cuts announced in the Budget.

"It therefore seems unlikely that March's upturn in the pace of growth represents the start of a longer term upswing. In contrast, the survey data suggest growth is more likely to weaken further in the second quarter."