By Daniel Hunter

The UK services sector slowed to a 17-month low in October as fears over economic growth continued.

The Markit/CIPS Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) fell from 58.7 in September to 56.2 in October - the lowest it has been in over a year.

Any figure above 50 indicates growth, so the sector, which accounts for roughly 70% of GDP, is still growing fairly strongly.

But it adds to the growing concerns over the strength of the economy. Recent woes in the eurozone have stunted optimism over the UK's growth prospects.

Markit chief economist Chris Williamson, said: “Slower service sector growth knocks the prospect of interest rate hikes firmly on the head, adding to an increasingly downbeat flow of economic data in recent weeks which has thrown a cloud of uncertainty over the outlook.

“A sharp easing of service sector growth to the weakest since May of last year comes on the heels of data showing construction growth sliding to a five-month low and the goods-producing sector shifting down a gear since earlier in the year.

“After GDP growth slowed to 0.7% in the third quarter, a 0.5% expansion is currently being signalled by the surveys for the fourth quarter. However, with inflows of work rising across all three sectors at the slowest rate for 16 months, there is a risk that economic growth could weaken further."

The Bank of England is due to announce its latest decision on interest rates on Thursday.

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