The Markit purchasing manager's index showed service PMI rise from 52.4 to 52.9 in April, while analysts had assumed the index would be flat. A number of greater than 50 implies an expansion, and as such the service sector can be seen to be growing at a faster rate.
This week has seen UK manufacturing and construction PMI data beat expectations.
Dr Howard Archer of IHS Global Insight:
It is not just the fact that services activity was reported to have grown at the fastest rate for eight months in April that was encouraging but also the generally improved tone of the survey. Incoming new business expanded at the fastest rate for 11 months in April while backlogs of work increased, which is supportive to further services growth in the near term at least. Meanwhile, employment in the sector rose modestly for a fourth month running. However, business expectations slipped back in April from a 10-month high in April.