By Andy Bruce and David Milliken
LONDON (Reuters) – British businesses have reported their fastest upturn in five years and shoppers pushed their spending back to near pre-lockdown levels, a survey and data published on Friday showed.
An early flash reading of the IHS Markit/CIPS UK Composite Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) shot up to 57.1 in July from 47.7 in June, above the 50 threshold for growth for the first time since lockdown began in March.
The figure, its highest since June 2015 and above the euro zone’s reading for this month, was better than all forecasts in a Reuters poll of economists.
The surge suggested Britain’s economy would return to growth in the third quarter after shrinking by more than 25% in March and April, Chris Williamson, chief business economist at PMI compiler IHS Markit, said.
“Even with the July rebound, there’s a long way to go before the