UK services sector growth speeds up

Image caption The service sector accounts for about three-quarters of the UK's economic output

The UK's services sector, which accounts for around 75% of the economy, grew by its fastest rate in eight months in April, new data suggests.

The Markit/CIPS Services Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) for the UK rose to 52.9 - the highest reading since August last year.

Any reading above 50 indicates growth in the sector.

Growth in services was credited with helping the UK avoid falling back into recession earlier this year.

The economy registered growth of 0.3% in the first three months of the year, according to official estimates.

"The data suggest that the return to growth enjoyed by the economy in the first quarter persisted and may have gained momentum at the start of the second," said Chris Williamson, chief economist at Markit.

He said the positive figures could reduce calls for more action from policymakers.

"A broad-based improvement is becoming evident in the UK economy, greatly reducing the likelihood of the Bank of England seeing any need to increase its asset purchases in the immediate future," he said.