Sterling climbed and the FTSE 100 rallied after the UK's dominant services sector outperformed expectations in April.
The purchasing managers' index for the service sector – which represents nearly 80% of the UK's business output – rose to 55.8 in April, up from 55 in March and beating expectations of a dip back to 54.5. An index reading above 50 indicates expanding business activity.
Companies surveyed reported growth in new business and job creation and expressed optimism about growth prospects over the next year.
The data indicated the UK economy was recovering more quickly than suggested by first-quarter (Q1) gross domestic product data, published last week.
"Insipid GDP figures had led many to expect little from today’s services figures, and the markets had priced in a fall," said Richard Berry at Berry FX.
Hat-trick of strong data
The service sector report completed a trio of unexpectedly robust PMIs following surveys of the manufacturing and construction sectors earlier this week, and raised hopes that Q2 GDP will show similar muscle.
A weaker pound – down 15% since last June's referendum that rejected EU membership – has driven a recovery in UK exports and pushed up the manufacturing PMI up to a three-year high of 57.3 in April from March's 54.2.