The services sector grew at the fastest rate in seven years in April and employers added jobs at a rate not seen in even longer, a new survey showed today. 

The Investec Purchasing Managers' index of activity in the services sector, which covers businesses from banks to hotels and accounts for 70% of economic output, rose to 61.9 in April from 60.7 in March.

This was the highest reading since February 2007. Readings above 50 point to growth.
"Today's report and last week's manufacturing PMI release show strong momentum across much of the private sector in Ireland," Investec Ireland's chief economist Philip O'Sullivansaid, referring to manufacturing growth that hit a three-year high last month.

"With an improving outlook both at home and across the country's main trading partners, we expect that this momentum will be sustained over the remainder of this year at least," he added.
The sub-index for employment among services firms rose to 60 from 58.5, its highest level since 2006. The country's unemployment rate, which rose above 15% two years ago ,has fallen below the EU average to 11.7%.
Speaking in Brussels yesterday, Finance Minister Michael Noonan said Ireland was on course to meet and could possibly better its target to bring its budget deficit down to 4.8% of gross domestic product this year.