Growth in the services sector rebounded in April from a dip the previous month that followed some of the worst weather seen for nearly 30 years, a survey showed today. 

The Investec Services Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) rose to 58.4 from 56.5 in March, having remained above the 50 mark that separates growth from contraction since August 2012. 

The index monitors business services, financial services, technology, media and telecommunications and travel and leisure.

Growth in the level of new business from abroad also hit its highest mark in more than two years, suggesting April's reading was not only due to an improvement in the weather. 

The sub-index measuring new export orders rose to 59.2 from 56.5, a recovery some respondents put down to new work secured from UK clients together with favourable exchange rate movements. 

Monthly new export orders have contracted only twice since August 2009, most recently in November 2016 when exporters were hurt by a sharp fall in sterling in the wake of the UK's vote to leave the European Union.

Given the countries' close trading links, Ireland is seen as the EU member state most at risk from Brexit, but so far the economy looks set to be the fastest growing in the bloc for a fifth year in a row. 

"The forward looking confidence index also improved to a seven-month high, suggesting that there is more to the stronger readings in this report than just the absence of the inclement weather that dampened the previous month's performance," Investec Ireland's chief economist Philip O'Sullivan said. 

"In any event, this week's manufacturing and services PMI releases point to a bright start to the second quarter of the year for much of the private sector," Mr O'Sullivan said.