Business

US services index slips on sharp fall in orders

An Institute for Supply Management report suggests that service businesses are hiring more people.
An Institute for Supply Management report suggests that service businesses are hiring more people.Credit: Richard Drew/Associated Press

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WASHINGTON — US service companies expanded at a steady but slightly slower pace in December as sales dipped and new orders plunged to a four-year low. The report suggests economic growth may remain modest in the coming months.

The Institute for Supply Management said Monday that its service-sector index fell to 53 last month, down from 53.9 in November. Any reading above 50 indicates expansion.

A measure of new orders plummeted 7 points to 49.4, the first time it has dropped below 50 since July 2009. A gauge of business stockpiles also fell sharply.

But a gauge of hiring increased 3.3 points to 55.8, evidence that services firms are adding more jobs.

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