UK economic activity may have begun to recover from a disastrous April, but remained deeply depressed even after Boris Johnson announced the first easing of the coronavirus lockdown and urged some businesses to reopen, a key survey shows.

The latest IHS Markit/Cips purchasing managers’ index for the UK, published on Thursday, showed that manufacturing and services output remained far below normal levels in May, even though sentiment had improved since the previous month.

The reading of 28.9 — a flash, or interim, estimate based on 85 per cent of survey responses — was up from April’s all-time low of 13.8 but was still far worse than at any other point in the survey’s 22-year history. This means that a large majority of businesses reported falling

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