By Jonathan Davies
Growth of the UK's services sector, which accounts for roughly 70% of GDP, accelerated in January after a relatively slow December, according to a closely watched survey.
The Markit/CIPS Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) was 57.2 in January, compared to 55.8 in December, which was a 17-month low. Any figure above 50 indicates growth.
Markit chief economist Chris Williamson said it shows that the economy enjoyed "a reassuringly robust start to the year".
"The data will allay fears that the economy is slowing sharply, having merely seen growth cool during the winter to a more sustainable pace."
The survey also showed that around 70,000 jobs were created per month in the services sector.
Profits were boosted by the slowest rise in goods and energy prices since June 2009.
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