The UK service sector gained further momentum in May on higher spending in response to looser pandemic restrictions, final data from IHS Markit showed on Thursday.

The Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply services Purchasing Managers' Index rose to 62.9 in May from 61.0 in April and exceeded the flash estimate of 61.8.

The score was above the 50.0 neutral level for the third month in a row and signaled the fastest growth for 24 years.

Service providers reported an accelerated rise in new order volumes in May, with the speed of recovery the fastest since October 2013, driven by domestic demand. Meanwhile, export sales fell slightly in comparison to April.

The latest increase in payroll numbers was the strongest since March 2015, with survey respondents citing a combination of new hires and the return of employees from furlough.

The input price inflation was the steepest since July 2008. At the same time, output charges pointed to the fastest rate of inflation since the survey began in July 1996. Business expectations remained close to March's 14-year high, drifting down only slightly since April despite strong inflationary pressures.

The composite output index came in at 62.9 in May from 60.7 in the previous month. The reading was above the flash 62.0. The index suggested the strongest expansion since the series began in 1998.

The latest survey results set the scene for an eye-popping rate of UK GDP growth in the second quarter of 2021, led by the reopening of customer-facing parts of the economy after winter lockdown, Tim Moore, an economics director at IHS Markit, said.

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