Britain's service companies are into overdrive despite the recent stock market mayhem.

So indicates the latest report from the Chartered Institute of Purchasing Supply and Reuters, its business activity index rising to 55.5 in September – the highest level since May and contradicting predictions of a modest decline.

The report also shows business expectations and new orders grew strongly, implying that prospects for the UK services sector continue to look good.

However, there is an economic downside. Numbers published Thursday by business information specialist Dun & Bradstreet show a marked rise in the number of company failures, with 33,000 UK firms going to the wall in the period January-September, seven per cent up year-on-year.

Data sourced from: Times Online (UK); additional content by WARC staff