Economic sentiment in the UK dropped in the first half of March as the coronavirus crisis began to have an impact and threaten jobs, even before restrictions such as social distancing were imposed.

The monthly figures from the European Commission showed that a deterioration in sentiment across businesses in the services and manufacturing sector as well as among consumers dragged the overall UK sentiment to 92 in March from 95.5 in February, well below the historical average of 100.

The figures are among the first indications of the likely economic blow to the economy as official output data are only published after weeks of time lag.

However, the data collection predates the UK’s closure of all non-essential shops and the introduction of social distancing measures

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