British services sector sees huge surge
Britain's dominant services sector saw activity in May surge at its fastest pace for more than a year in the latest sign that the UK recovery is gathering pace.
The biggest increase in new business for more than three years lifted the closely-watched Markit/CIPS services purchasing managers' index (PMI) to 54.9 - well above the 50 level which separates expansion from contraction.
The stronger-than-expected performance from the services sector - which makes up more than three quarters of wider economic output - follows improved readings from both the manufacturing and construction sectors in May.
Economists said the UK's outlook is "clearly brightening", lifting hopes it will build on first-quarter growth of 0.3%.
The 54.9 reading was the fifth consecutive month of service sector growth and followed a 52.9 level in April - making it the strongest reading since March 2012.
Companies added staff for the fifth month in a row and said improved weather helped drive growth, along with better market conditions.