Activity in the UK’s dominant services sector rose at a faster-than-expected pace in March.
The Markit/CIPS purchasing managers’ index (PMI) for services rose to 55, compared with economists’ expectations of a slight increase to 53.5.
The services sector, which accounts for three-quarters of the UK economy, said business activity and new work grew at the strongest rate so far this year.
However, cost pressures led to the fastest rise in prices since late 2008.
The pound rose 0.3% against the dollar to $1.2478 after the survey found that business activity expanded at the quickest rate since December.
Respondents were also optimistic about the year ahead, while there was evidence that the fall in the value of sterling since the Brexit vote had led to new sales inquiries from abroad and demand for overseas clients, especially in the US.
However, jobs growth was “only marginal”, with some companies saying tighter margins and rising wage bills meant that they were not replacing those who had left.
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