Services Sector Slowed In December

By Agence France-Presse The giant U.S. services sector continued to grow in December for the ninth straight month, but the rate of expansion slowed from the pace set in November, a survey showed Jan. 6. The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) said its index of non-manufacturing activity slowed to 58.6% in December from 60.1% in November. Any figure above 50% indicates expanding activity. "Non-manufacturing business activity increased for the ninth consecutive month in December," said Ralph Kauffman, head of the survey group. The deceleration in the index surprised Wall Street. Economists had forecast that the index would spike up slightly to 60.8% last month. New orders grew, albeit at a slower pace than was notched up in November, with the index dropping 1.1 percentage points to 60.1% in December. Order backlogs rose, however, by 3.3 points to 55.5%. Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2004

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