The services sector expanded in March, albeit only just, as financial services, health and retail led the way.
The Australian Industry Group’s Performance of Services Index declined by 1.5 points in March but, at 50.2, remained just above the key 50-point level that separates expansion from contraction.
Finance and insurance services was the dominant force driving growth, up 4 points to a booming 73.
Health and community eased slightly last month, but remains well in expansion at 57.5, while retail trade rose 2.9 points to 52.6 – the first time that sector has expanded in six months.
Personal and recreational services also rose in March, ending three months of contraction, but hospitality contracted for a fifth straight month, while wholesale also continued declining, and communications slumped 9.5 points to 33.8 and has been contracting since December 2011.
The sub-indices for sales, employment and new orders all expanded last month, but all three were only just above 50 points.
Deliveries and stocks both fell.