The UK's service sector grew at its fastest rate since March 2011 in January, according to the latest survey, dampening fears that the economy is to fall back into recession. The Markit/CIPS services purchasing managers' index (PMI) increased from 54 to 56, with any figure above 50 indicating growth. The survey also found that confidence among bosses hit a 15-year high during the month, as firms saw the strongest influx of new orders in six months, driving employment in the sector to rise at its fastest pace since March 2008. Chris Williamson, chief economist at Markit, said: “A slide back into recession is now looking increasingly unlikely. The economy could well expand at close to trend rate - around 2-2.5% per annum - in the first quarter if business conditions hold up in the next two months.”

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