Service Sector Posts Unexpectedly Strong Numbers

The U.S. service sector, which accounts for two-thirds of the country’s economic activity, grew at its fastest pace in a year during February, according to data released by the Institute for Supply Management on Monday.

The service index rose from 56.8 to 57.3 in February, topping economists’ expectations for a 0.7 decline to 56.1. In general, an index reading above 50 is associated with expansion.

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New orders climbed to 61.2 from the prior month’s 59.4 and the employment index declined to 55.7 from 57.4. Business activity rose to 62.6, a 12-month peak, from 59.5.

The ISM survey covers a wide variety of industries, including retail, finance, and construction.

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