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Global economy grew nearly 3 percent in first quarter -PMI

LONDON, April 3 (Reuters) - Global business activity accelerated last month, with solid performances in services and manufacturing suggesting the economy grew about 3 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier, a survey showed on Thursday.

JPMorgan's Global All-Industry Output Index, produced with Markit, rose to 53.5 from February's 53.0, holding above the 50 mark that divides growth from contraction for the 18th month.

"PMI data suggest growth of global GDP (gross domestic product) is tracking at a pace of near 3 percent during the opening quarter of the year," said David Hensley, a director at JPMorgan.

Global growth should pick up above 3 percent this year and next, IMF managing director Christine Lagarde said on Wednesday, but warned that a prolonged period of sluggish growth was a risk.

The new orders component of the purchasing managers' index fell to 52.7 from 54.2, suggesting that this month's PMI might not be as strong.

"However, it looks as if any moderation will be only slight and, reassuringly, insufficient to derail the rebound in employment levels," Hensley said.

A global services index rose to 53.5 from 52.7 although a sister survey on Tuesday showed manufacturing growth lost some momentum last month.

(Reporting by Jonathan Cable; Editing by Ruth Pitchford)