Activity in retail, services and manufacturing has slowed sharply, according to a clutch of data, suggesting tighter credit conditions may finally be taking their toll on the economy. Financial Times, The Times.

The service sector grew at its slowest rate in four years, according to a survey of purchasing managers, after a marked slowdown in the financial sector and weaker growth in new orders.

The Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply and NTC, the research group, said their index of services activity fell in October to 53.1 from 56.7 in September. The figure was below expectations of 56.

Any reading above 50 indicates expansion but the fall confirmed output had been affected by economic uncertainty, leading to a greater reluctance by companies to commit to new orders.

Most analysts still do not expect the Bank of England, which begins its two-day interest rate meeting tomorrow, to cut its main interest rate from 5.75%.