Italy's services sector expanded in April at the strongest pace since November, a survey showed on Wednesday, brightening hopes for economic growth prospects in the second quarter amid reports of stronger domestic and foreign demand.

S&P Global's Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) for services rose to 55.7 in April from 52.1 in March, pushing further above the 50 mark that separates growth from contraction.

The reading beat the median forecast of 54.5 in a Reuters survey of 14 analysts.

The sub-index for new business in the service sector jumped to 56.0 in April from 52.6 in March.

Italy's service sector took longer to recover from COVID-19 lockdowns than the smaller manufacturing sector, which has seen growth for nearly two years.

The manufacturing PMI recorded its 22nd consecutive month of expansion in April, though growth slowed from the month before.

The composite PMI for services and manufacturing stood at 54.5 in April, up from 52.1 in March, the highest level since December and marking a 15th consecutive month of growth.

Italy's economy contracted by 0.2% in the first quarter from the previous three months, weighed down by surging energy costs and broader uncertainty connected with Russia's invasion of Ukraine. (

Reporting by Angelo Amante; Editing by Gavin Jones and Catherine Evans)