FILE PHOTO: The spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in LondonMore

By David Milliken

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s economy is on course for an unprecedented 7% quarterly contraction after measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus forced business closures across the country last month, a business survey showed on Tuesday.

IHS Markit said its monthly Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) for the services sector fell to its lowest since the survey started in 1996, dropping to 13.4 in April from 34.5 in March, only a fraction better than an initial flash estimate of 12.3.

Last week’s manufacturing PMI was similarly dire, and IHS Markit said that taken together, they pointed to the deepest economic downturn “in living memory”.

A composite PMI of the two sectors dropped to 13.8