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U.S. Service Sector Growth Slows More Than Expected In December

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A report released by the Institute for Supply Management on Monday showed growth in U.S. service sector activity slowed by more than anticipated in the month of December.

The ISM said its non-manufacturing index dropped to 57.6 in December after inching up to 60.7 in November. While a reading above 50 still indicates service sector growth, economists had expected the index to dip to 59.0.

"The non-manufacturing sector's growth rate cooled off in December," said Anthony Nieves, Chair of the ISM Non-Manufacturing Business Survey Committee. "Respondents indicate that there still is concern about tariffs, despite the hold on increases by the U.S. and China."

He added, "Also, comments reflect that capacity constraints have lessened; however, employment-resource challenges remain."

The bigger than expected decrease by the headline index was partly due to notably slower growth in business activity, with the business activity index tumbling to 59.9 in December from 65.2 in November.

The employment index also slid to 56.3 in December from 58.4 in November, indicating a slowdown in the pace of job growth in the service sector.

However, a report released by the Labor Department last Friday showed employment in the private service-providing sector spiked by 227,000 jobs in December after climbing by 146,000 jobs in November.

The ISM said its prices index also slumped to 57.6 in December from 64.3 in November, pointing to significantly slower price growth.

Last Thursday, the ISM released a separate report showing a notable slowdown in the pace of growth in U.S. manufacturing activity in the month of December

The purchasing managers index tumbled to 54.1 in December after rising to 59.3 in November, hitting its lowest level since November of 2016. Economists had expected the index to slip to 57.9.

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