U.S. Services Sector Slows Down

Sector has still shown increases for the past 45 months.

The US economy's vast services sector slowed down in December, but not as badly as most Wall Street analysts had feared, the Institute of Supply Management said in a report Jan. 2. The ISM said its index of non-manufacturing activity moderated to 57.1% from 58.9% in November.

Despite the slowdown in activity, the reading, however, was slightly stronger-than-expected as most Wall Street analysts had forecast that the index would drop to 57%.

A figure above 50 indicates expansion, so the ISM report still indicates the services sector, which makes up the bulk of activity in the world's largest economy, is expanding albeit more slowly.

ISM survey chief Anthony Nieves said the report, based on a survey of purchasing managers, showed "non-manufacturing business activity increased for the 45th consecutive month in December."

The prices index, a gauge of inflationary pressures, rose 3.5 points to 59.1%.

The index for new orders declined to 54.4% from 57.1% a month earlier, while the employment index ticked up to 53.3% from 51.6%.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2007

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