By Marcus Leach

Figures released on Tuesday show that the UK service sector sustained solid growth for the month of June.

The growth, measured by the Markit/Cips services purchasing managers' index (PMI), is attributed to continuing rises in the volumes of new business.

The index was up from 53.8 in May to 53.9 in June, although Markit did warn that job creation for the sector remained minimal.

Chris Williamson, chief economist at Markit, said the marginally faster rate of growth in the service sector covered up what are worrying signs elsewhere.

"Inflows of new business rose at the slowest pace for four months in June, and optimism about the coming year hit an eight-month low," he said.

"Companies kept headcounts largely unchanged, highlighting a reluctance to expand workforces as a result of the uncertain outlook and renewed weakness of the manufacturing and household sectors.

"The scope for the private sector to make up for public sector layoffs therefore still looks limited, meaning unemployment could stay stubbornly high for some time."

The economy as a whole could have grown by just 0.3% in the second quarter, down from 0.5% in the first, it added.

Official economic growth figures for the second quarter will be released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) later this month.

The services data follows Markit PMIs for manufacturing and construction in recent days, which showed a slowdown in growth in both sectors.

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