Growth slows in US service sector

New York : The service sector, which accounts for more than 75 percent of US economic activity, expanded last month at the slowest pace in nearly two years, the Institute for Supply Management said Monday.

The ISM’s services index declined from 52.9 in October to 52 in November, the lowest level since January 2010 and short of analysts’ forecasts of a reading of 54.

Even so, any reading above 50 points indicates expansion and November marked the 24th consecutive month of growth in the service sector as measured by the ISM nationwide survey of purchasing and supply executives.

“Respondents’ comments for the most part project continued slow, incremental growth. There still remains a strong concern about lagging employment,” the head of the ISM’s Non-Manufacturing Business Survey Committee, Anthony Nieves, said.

The survey sub-index measuring activity in the service sector rose from 53.8 points in October to 56.2 last month, while the new orders sub-index climbed from 52.4 to 53 points.

Conversely, the sub-index that gauges employment in the sector dropped from 53.3 points in October to 48.9 points in November.

US factory orders fell 0.4 percent in October, the Commerce Department said in a report released Monday that also revised the figures from September to show a 0.1 percent decline instead of the original estimate of a 0.3 percent rise.

The largest determining factor in October was a 5 percent drop in orders for expensive transportation goods, notably in the civil aviation sector, which saw orders plunge 16.8 percent.

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