Business

UK services output picks up in April

train station
Image caption Transport was among the growth services in April, according to the ONS figures

The output of the UK's services sector picked up in April, official data show, raising hopes of continued economic growth into the second quarter.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that output rose 0.2% compared with March, and was 2% higher than April 2012.

Services make up more than three-quarters of the UK economy.

On Thursday the ONS confirmed that GDP grew by 0.3% in the first three months of the year.

In Friday's release, the statistics agency said transport, storage and communications were growth areas, while hotels, restaurants, business services and finance showed little growth in output.

Services as a whole were outperforming other parts of the economy, it added.

"Services output [is] very close to its pre-contraction peak," the ONS said.

"By contrast, output in the production and construction industries are close to or below the troughs recorded in 2009; the weakness seen in the output approach to the measurement of GDP can be largely attributed to these industries. GDP is still around 3.9% below its pre-downturn peak."

Economists said the data provided further evidence that the UK economic recovery was gaining momentum.

Chris Williamson, economist at Markit, a financial information services firm, said continuing positive data on the state of the economy made it "increasingly unlikely" that the Bank of England would move to expand economic stimulus measures in the coming weeks.

David Tinsley from BNP Paribas said incoming Bank governor Mark Carney "has to try and work out if this performance has 'legs', or will run into the sand in the second half of 2013."

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