Markit’s preliminary services purchasing manager’s index for April came in at 52.1.
That’s up from 51.3 in the final March reading, which signalled a rebound for the sector that gave economists a bit of a scare in the prior months as it slowed down.
The consensus forecast for the flash PMI was 52.
“The upturn in the rate of growth of business activity and increased inflows of new orders suggest the economy should see GDP rise at an increased rate in the second quarter, but growth is clearly far more fragile than this time last year,” said Markit chief economist Chris Williamson.
Services make an outsized contribution to economic growth.
The index remains well below its peak above 60 reached in 2014. Markit noted that the current growth momentum is weaker on average since the survey started in late-2009.
Soft client demand and new-work orders kept job growth slow across the service economy, and the rise in payrolls was the weakest in six months.
Business owners are betting that things would pick up over the next year, although optimism is still much weaker than the historical average.
Williamson said, “survey responses indicate that persistent weak demand from domestic and overseas customers, the struggling energy sector, the strong dollar and election worries are all eating into business optimism.”