Palma/Madrid.—Spain's services sector shrank in April at its fastest rate this year, a survey showed yesterday, as the country's economic slump and rising joblessness weighed on consumer sentiment and new business.

Markit's Purchasing Managers' Index for private-sector service companies, which accounted for just under half of gross domestic product last year, fell to 44.4 in April from 45.3 in March. It was the index's 22nd straight month below the 50 line separating growth from contraction and the fastest pace of contraction since December. “Survey respondents highlighted the Spanish economic crisis as the main factor causing the ongoing decline in the sector, with customers reluctant to spend,” said Markit economist Andrew Harker.