Services sector reports strong growth at start of the year

Accountancy, legal and marketing firms have led strong growth in the services sector in the past few months, a new study shows.

Research by the CBI found that growth is set to accelerate further in the three months to May.

Hotels, bars, restaurants, travel and leisure firms have also enjoyed a positive start to the year, although growth is expected to ease in the coming months.

Despite the findings, from a survey of more than 150 companies, the CBI said businesses were worried at the "lack of clarity" over the UK's future relationship with the EU.

Rain Newton-Smith, the CBI's chief economist, said: "It's great to see the services sector start the year off on a firm footing.

"Despite feeling the pinch from high inflation, business volumes have bloomed, profits have grown for the first time in over two years and hiring is on the up.

"But there are still some telling signs that the underlying challenges for business, professional and consumer services firms have not gone away.

"Investment plans are muted amid uncertainty, and plans for expansion among business and professional services firms have turned downwards."

The CBI said belonging to a comprehensive customs union would go a long way to allaying concerns about the future relationship with the EU.

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