Activity in the UK’s services sector accelerated in March at its fastest pace since August last year, according to a closely-watched survey.
The Markit/CIPS Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) rose to 58.9 from February’s reading of 56.7.
Any reading above 50 indicates growth, while below 50 suggests contraction.
Markit said its three surveys – of the construction, manufacturing and service sectors – taken together implied first quarter economic growth of 0.7%.
It comes as the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) also forecast UK economic of 0.7% in the three months to March, up from 0.6% in the previous quarter.
Last month, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revised economic growth for the last three months of 2014 up to 0.6% from an earlier estimate of 0.5%.