Much of the time the purchasing managers' surveys have presented a rosier picture of the economy than official data. The hope is that this time it is the other way round.
With a drop in the service sector purchasing managers' index from 50.2 in November to 48.9 in December, the all-sector PMI for the fourth quarter came in at 49.9, its weakest since 2009. Part of that weakness may be weather-related, though growth has softened on an underlying basis as well.
Though in theory this suggests a flat fourth quarter, Markit, which compiles the data, says it is consistent with a 0.2% fall, following the 0.9% rise in the third quarter. More details here.