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Fresh optimism in service sector

Service sector firms started 2014 in upbeat mood, following a third consecutive quarter of rising activity, according to the CBI's quarterly Service Sector Survey.

In the three months to February, optimism in both the consumer sector – which includes hotels, bars, restaurants, travel and leisure firms – and in the business and professional services sector, including accountancy, legal and marketing firms, increased at the fastest rate since the start of the survey in 1998.

Anna Leach, CBI head of economic analysis, said: "2014 has started well. Business activity is up, optimism is high and profits are improving too."

Belfast Telegraph