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Irish services growth picks up, bucking euro zone trend - PMI

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Businesses reopen as coronavirus restrictions begin to ease in Dublin
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DUBLIN (Reuters) - Growth in Ireland's services sector accelerated for the first time in four months in July, a survey showed on Thursday, bucking the deteriorating trend seen across the euro zone as a whole and in neighbouring Britain.

The AIB S&P Global Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) rose to 56.3 from 55.6 in June, moving slightly further above the 50 mark separating growth from contraction where it has remained for 17 successive months.

The index hit 63.4 in March, before inflationary pressures and increasing uncertainty linked to Russia's invasion of Ukraine interrupted a rapid recovery from COVID-19 lockdowns.

The gap between the July Irish reading and the rest of the euro zone also widened after the reading for the bloc dipped to 51.2 from 53.0, led by slowing growth in Spain and France, and contraction in Germany and Italy.

Service sector growth slowed to a 17-month low of 52.6 in Britain, down from 54.3 in June.

The pick up in Ireland was driven by an upturn in new export business, with respondents pointing to the return of tourism and stronger client demand in key markets such as Britain.

Each of the four sub-sectors covered in the survey expanded with financial services registering the strongest rate of growth.

Business expectations strengthened to a three-month high as a result, up sharply to 67.0 from 61.8.

(Reporting by Padraic Halpin; Editing by Toby Chopra)

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