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UK facing 'worst recession in modern history'

The UK economy is facing its worst recession in modern history after the coronavirus (COVID-19) caused a 'sharp slowdown', according to the latest Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) survey from data provider IHS Markit.

The survey shows that UK business activity has fallen at a faster rate than at the height of the financial crisis in 2008. The decrease between February and March is the sharpest recorded by the survey since it began in 1998.

The headline figure recorded by the PMI was 37 in March, plunging from 51 in February. Figures above 50 represent growth, while figures below 50 mark a decline. The previous low of 38.1 was recorded in November 2008.

The survey also suggests that the worst is yet to come: it was conducted before the UK government ordered restaurants, pubs, other venues and all non-essential shops to close.

Chris Williamson, Chief Business Economist at IHS Markit, said: 'The surveys highlight how the COVID-19 outbreak has already dealt the UK economy an initial blow even greater than that seen at the height of the global financial crisis.

'With additional measures to contain the spread of the virus set to further paralyse large parts of the economy in coming months, such as business closures and potential lockdowns, a recession of a scale we have not seen in modern history is looking increasingly likely.'