SCOTTISH economic growth accelerated in May to its fastest pace since last July, and job-creation was at its greatest in 41 months, a key survey reveals.

Royal Bank of Scotland’s PMI (Purchasing Managers’ Index) report, published today, reveals growth last month was powered by the services sector.

Sebastian Burnside, chief economist at Royal Bank, said: “The timing is interesting. This is happening at the time the oil price is hitting multi-year highs.”

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He noted that the previous weakness of the oil price had weighed on the Scottish economy over the last few years.

The Scottish manufacturing sector achieved only modest growth in May.

The PMI for Scotland, which measures the combined output of the manufacturing and services sectors, rose from 52.6 in April to 53.7 in May on a seasonally adjusted basis.

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This took it further above the level of 50 deemed to separate expansion from contraction, and the latest reading for Scotland was not far adrift of the corresponding UK-wide index of 54.5.

Mr Burnside said: “The Scottish numbers are pretty good. They are showing a pretty impressive surge in businesses reporting growth in May, which is what we like to see.”

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Declaring such a strong performance was “certainly long overdue”, he added: “We have had two or three years now where we have been talking about the Scottish economy underperforming, particularly relative to the rest of the UK, so [it is] particularly encouraging to see some early signs that businesses are feeling conditions are a bit better at the moment.”

The survey showed new business growth in Scotland in May was the strongest in any month since July 2014.