UK services sector accelerates in March, says survey
Activity in the UK's services sector picked up in March, a survey suggests, with more jobs being created.
The Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) rose to 55.3 from 53.8 in February. Levels above 50 indicate expansion.
It follows similarly strong March surveys from the manufacturing and construction sectors.
The data points to first-quarter UK economic growth of 0.5%, according to Chris Williamson, chief economist at Markit, which produces the surveys.
The services sector - which dominates the UK economy - recorded its 15th consecutive month of expansion, according to the surveys, and its strongest quarter since spring 2011.
"Faster growth of services activity in March indicates that the economy is on the up again, skirting recession as business continues to bounce back from the lull seen late last year," said Mr Williamson.
In other encouraging signs, the survey suggested that jobs were being created in the sector at their fastest pace in four years, with businesses optimistic about the outlook for the next 12 months.
Earlier this week, a separate PMI survey showed manufacturing sector growing at its fastest pace for 10 months in March, as factories cleared out a backlog of existing work and new orders also picked up.