The Markit U.S. Services Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) fell 0.5% to 55.0 for April, according to a Markit report (link opens as PDF) released today.
While this latest reading comes in below March numbers, it managed to clock in 0.8 points ahead of April's previous "flash" estimate of 54.2, a rougher estimate based on just 85% to 90% of total PMI survey responses. An above-50 reading denotes positive change from the previous month, putting this month's report in growth territory. Analysts had been hoping for a repeat performance of March's 55.3 reading.
Diving deeper into components, the all-important new orders metric increased a solid 2.1 points to reach 55.1, but outstanding business continued to contract, down another 0.9 points to 47.4 Business expectations remained unchanged and optimistic at 76.4.
"The survey data point to robust growth at the start of the second quarter, adding to hopes that the official data will show the economy rebounding strongly from the weather-related stalling seen in the first quarter," said Markit Chief Economist Chris Williamson in a statement today.
Williamson added, however, that "the good news needs to be qualified." With growth rates trending lower, April's expansion marks the slowest month since May 2013, excluding October's government shutdown and weather-related reductions earlier this year.
Williamson also noted that the surveys are "signalling an easing in the rate of job creation since the start of the year, pointing to private sector payroll growth in the region of 100k, meaning a substantial slowing compared to the recent average 225k increases signalled by official data over the past three months."