A return to recession may be avoided in the U.K. if a pickup in services is any indicator, with Markit Economics and the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply reporting that their gauge of activity in the sector rose to 51.8 from 51.5 in January. The gain surprised economists, who had predicted a decline to 51. "Whether this trajectory can be maintained, however, is another question entirely, given other sectors have not performed as well," commented CIPS chief David Noble.

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