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Service sector shows improvement
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Taipei, May 6 (CNA) The local service sector showed signs of improvement in March, with an index gauging the sector's sentiment indicating that momentum accelerated in March, according to the Commerce Development Research Institute (CDRI).

The CDRI, one of the leading think tanks in Taiwan, cited a survey as saying that the Index of Service Industry (ISI) for March stood at 104, up 1 point from a month earlier, flashing a yellow-red light, which represents a range between 104 and 108. In February, the ISI flashed a green light, which ranges from 100 to 103.

The think tank said that the higher ISI in March largely reflected an improvement in the local job market and business operations.

The CDRI uses a five-color coded system, in conjunction with the ISI, to describe the outlook for Taiwan's service sector, focusing on three major segments -- securities trading, business operations, the labor market and wages.

Red indicates overheating, yellow-red slight overheating, green represents steady growth, yellow-blue sluggishness and blue indicates recession.

The sub-index for the business operations factor for March rose to 100 points from February's 99 on the back of an increase in power consumption, land and air cargo volume, and the number of flights handled by airports, the CDRI said.

The CDRI added that the number of new companies set up in March topped the number of business shutdowns in the month also gave a boost to the business operations sub-index.

The sub-index for the labor market rose to 104 points in March from 102 seen in February, in reflection of an increase in new hiring and the number of overtime work hours, the CDRI said.

Bucking the upturn, the sub-index for securities trading fell to 100 points in March from 101 seen a month earlier, since the local equity market encountered volatility, with market sentiment hit by a move by the U.S. Federal Reserve to hike its key interest rates by 0.25 percentage points, the CDRI said.

The CDRI said the service sector is expected to flash another yellow-red light in April as the sector continues to benefit from rising consumption resulting from continued outbound sales growth. The think tank said that the retail and restaurant segments witnessed revenue momentum picking up due to the Tomb Sweeping Festival holiday of April 1-4.

The think tank said that April's ISI could stand at 105 points.