Survey: Growth at US services firms strengthened in April

A private survey says growth accelerated in April at U.S. services companies.

The Institute for Supply Management's services index climbed to 55.7 in April, the highest level this year. The increase follows a reading of 54.5 in March. Any level above 50 signals growth.

Business activity, new orders and employment measures all showed expansion last month.

The services index suggests that the economy might be improving slightly after a weak start to 2016. The U.S. economy expanded at an annual rate of just 0.5 percent during the first three months of the year, the government reported last week.

The pace of consumer spending slipped compared with the end of 2015, while business investment fell and the trade deficit subtracted from growth.