The RBS/NTC Eurozone Services Business Activity Index rose from 51.6 in March to 52.0 in April, coming in slightly above the earlier flash estimate of 51.8. However, the rise still indicated only a very modest acceleration in growth, with the rate of increase remaining weak by historical standards of the survey (and only slightly above the average reading for Q1, which had been the weakest quarter since Q2 2003).
Germany's services sector expanded for the third month running in April and at its fastest pace in six months, buoyed by a marked upturn in new business growth, The NTC services PMI survey showed on Tuesday.
NTC Research's business activity gauge for German firms ranging from banks to catering rose to 54.9 from 51.8, holding above the 50 mark separating expansion and contraction for the third month running and hitting its highest level in six months.
Even so, firms were less upbeat about the corporate outlook. Business expectations remained in the 'expansion' zone, but stayed well below the long-run series average, registering 51.2.
"The business expectations index ... does suggest that firms are very cautious," said Chris Williamson, chief economist at NTC, which compiles the data.
Anecdotal evidence suggested that a weaker economic outlook for the next 12 months weighed on business sentiment, NTC said.
The German government expects economic growth to slow to around 1.7 percent in 2008 from 2.5 percent last year. Next year it has forecast expansion of some 1.2 percent.
Although economic indicators point to the German economy, Europe's largest, making a strong start to this year, it has not escaped the fallout from the global credit crisis.
While a new business index rose sharply to 55.6 in April from 52.1 in March, the financial intermediation sector was the only one of six broad areas of the services economy where new business did not grow in April, NTC said.
An index on input prices rose to 62.7 from 60.3 in March. That reading was the highest this year and only just below last December's seven-year high.