Activity in the UK’s service sector accelerated in April, with new work growing at its fastest pace this year, according to a closely-watched survey.
The Markit/CIPS purchasing managers’ index (PMI) for services rose to 55.8, its highest level for four months.
It has now been above the 50 level that marks the divide between growth and contraction for nine months in a row.
However, Markit said prices charged by service sector firms rose at their fastest rate since July 2008.
The services sector accounts for about three-quarters of the UK economy.
Markit said the strong performance from the dominant sector, together with similarly upbeat surveys for construction and manufacturing, suggests the economy is currently growing at twice the pace than that seen in the first quarter of the year.
“The three surveys collectively point to GDP growing at a rate of 0.6% at the start of the second quarter,” said IHS Markit economist Chris Williamson.
However, he warned that rising inflation was likely to eventually curb growth.
The UK economy grew by 0.3% in the first three months of the year, according to the initial estimate from the Office for National Statistics, the slowest growth rate since the first quarter of 2016.
The weak growth rate was largely blamed on the impact of rising prices on household spending.
Inflation has been accelerating in recent months, partly as a result of the fall in the pound after the Brexit vote, which has raised the prices of imported goods.
The inflation rate was 2.3% in March, unchanged from February, but above the Bank of England’s target of 2% and the highest rate since September 2013.