The pace of the UK recovery slowed to its lowest level in nine months in March as the powerhouse services sector completed a hat-trick of narrowing growth across the economy, according to new figures.

Data from the closely watched Markit/CIPS purchasing managers' index (PMI) showed that the sector - representing three-quarters of output - recorded a reading of 57.6 in March, where the 50 mark separates growth from contraction.

It marked a fall from the 58.2 recorded in February and its lowest reading since June last year.

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The figures follow data earlier in the week showing growth also slowed marginally in manufacturing and construction, leaving the all-sector PMI at a nine-month low of 58.1.

This indicates that while the sectors continue to show robust improvement, the pace has slackened off. Overall economic output is still below its pre-crisis peak at the start of 2008.