Growth in the vast services sector cooled in February, a survey by the Institute of Supply Management showed March 5. The ISM non-manufacturing index fell to 54.3% last month from 59% in January.
The figure was considerably weaker than the 57.5% expected by Wall Street but ahead of the 50% which signifies expansion.
The ISM report suggests modest growth in services, which make up the bulk of activity in the world's largest economy. "The overall indication in February is continued economic growth in the non-manufacturing sector, but at a slower pace than in January," said ISM survey chief Anthony Nieves. Nieves noted that the survey marked the 47th consecutive month of expansion in February.
The prices index, a gauge of inflation pressures, fell 1.4 points to 53.8 %.
The index for new orders fell to 54.8% from 55.4 % a month earlier, while the employment index edged up 52.2% from 51.7%.
The latest report was roughly in line with the ISM index of national industrial activity, which rose to 52.3% in February and showed modest growth from 49.3% in January.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2007