BERLIN (Reuters) – German services sector activity grew in April at the fastest pace in a year as demand picked up, a business survey showed on Friday.

The HCOB services Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) rose to 56.0 from 53.7 in March, climbing further above the 50 threshold that separates growth from contraction.

Demand and new orders have increased for three consecutive months, with significant growth in exports.

Service providers continued to recruit additional staff to cope with the surge in demand, with job creation increasing for the second consecutive month and at the fastest pace since November 2021.

Both the overall rate of input price inflation and the rate at which service providers raised their own prices eased but remained high by historical standards due to strong demand, the survey showed.

“How long can Germany’s service sector decouple itself from the weak performance of manufacturers?,” said Cyrus de la Rubia, chief economist at Hamburg Commercial Bank.

The composite PMI index, which comprises services and manufacturing, rose to 54.2 in April from 52.6 in March. The upturn was driven primarily by services, though there was also a minimal increase in manufacturing output.

(Reporting by Maria Martinez; editing by John Stonestreet)