Growth in the dominant services sector hit an eight-month high in April, bolstering hopes of a wider economic recovery after a slow start to the year.
The closely-watched Markit/Cips report, which follows disappointing figures for the construction and manufacturing industries, gave a reading of 59.5, up from 58.9 the previous month and the highest level since August.
Howard Archer, chief UK economist at IHS Global Insight, said: “The upbeat April services purchasing managers’ survey fosters hope that the UK economy can see decent growth over the coming months despite the marked first-quarter slowdown.”
Official figures show economic growth slowed to 0.3 per cent in the first three months of the year, half the rate seen during the final quarter of 2014.
The services sector, which includes accountancy, hairdressing and hotels, represents more than three-quarters of economic output, leading to concerns that the economy has become too reliant on consumer spending.
Economists believe the latest survey results point towards overall growth of 0.8 per cent in the second quarter.