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The services sector in Japan continued to contract in May, and at a faster pace, the latest survey from Jibun Bank revealed on Thursday with a services PMI score of 46.5.

That’s up from 49.5 in April and it moves further beneath the boom-or-bust line of 50 that separates expansion from contraction.

New business declined at a faster pace in the latest survey period, extending the current sequence of contraction to 16 months. The latest reduction was the quickest for three months and modest.

Panel members highlighted that the rise in COVID-19 cases and the reimposition of a state of emergency to curb the spread of infections caused the fall in new work. Moreover, international demand for Japanese services deteriorated further as key markets around Asia faced stricter restrictions due to a surge in infection rates.

The survey also said its composite index slipped to 48.8 in May from 51.0 in April.

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