Britain's dominant services sector grew at its fastest monthly pace for more than 16 years in October, spurring hopes that the UK economic recovery is accelerating through the final quarter of the year.
The reading of 62.5 from the closely-watched Markit/CIPS purchasing managers' index (PMI) - far ahead of the 50 level that separates growth from contraction - was the best since May 1997.
It suggests that not since Tony Blair entered Downing Street has the sector, which represents three-quarters of economic output, been expanding so quickly.
Job growth was also the best since May 1997, while new work increased at the sharpest rate since the survey began in July 1996. Firms said the housing market - boosted by initiatives such as Help to Buy - remained a source of growth.
The figures add to other PMI data from October showing continued improvements in construction and manufacturing, though the pace of the latter has slowed.
Chris Williamson, chief economist at Markit, said they indicated private sector job creation running at more than 100,000 per quarter, and an ongoing broad-based upturn in the economy.
David Noble, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply, said it was a "sparkling start to Q4 for the UK economy".
Economists said it appeared to indicate gross domestic product growth (GDP) for the fourth quarter as high as 1.5%, up from 0.8% in the third quarter - though Alan Clarke of Scotiabank warned the survey could be "a bit frothy".
Howard Archer of IHS Global Insight said moderation in consumer spending - amid latest figures showing lacklustre retail sales - was also likely to put the brakes on GDP performance.
The services data showed that the sector was continuing to benefit from increasing optimism amid the economic upturn, with backlogs of work also rising. Higher workloads have encouraged more hiring.
Energy, fuel and utility bills, plus wages, pushed up costs and put pressure on margins - but firms were becoming confident enough in the recovery to pass these on in the shape of modest price rises of their own.
Martin Beck of Capital Economics, said while the PMI surveys may present an "overly rosy picture" of the recovery, an improvement in GDP growth on the third quarter's 0.8% now looked "eminently plausible".
James Knightley of ING Bank said the likelihood of fourth quarter growth ahead of other major economies was likely to help maintain the strength of sterling.
He said it would also lead to further questions about whether the Bank of England still believes it will be three years before unemployment falls to 7% - its threshold for triggering the possibility of a rise in interest rates.
Most economists have now pencilled this in for a year or more earlier, while minutes of a meeting of Bank's Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) showed it now felt joblessness was falling and the economy growing faster than previously expected.
Jeremy Cook, chief economist at currency brokers, World First, said: "The services sector is flying.
"Records in both output and employment have guided the PMI to the highest level since Tony Blair took power in the UK back in 1997, as confidence around the long-term ability for recovery continues to increase.
"There will be a fair few of the economic fraternity of who will be looking forward to next week's quarterly inflation report and expecting some form of outlook change from the MPC; a change that will see rates rising sooner than the 2016 expectation that was originally forecast."