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U.S. Service Sector Growth Continues To Slow In July

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Growth in U.S. service sector activity unexpectedly slowed in the month of July, according to a report released by the Institute for Supply Management on Monday.

The ISM said its non-manufacturing index fell to 53.7 in July after dropping to 55.1 in June. A reading above 50 still indicates service sector growth, although economists had expected the index to inch up to 55.5.

With the unexpected decrease, the non-manufacturing index slid to its lowest level since hitting 51.8 in August of 2016.

"The non-manufacturing sector's rate of growth continued to cool off," said Anthony Nieves, Chair of the ISM Non-Manufacturing Business Survey Committee.

"Respondents indicated ongoing concerns related to tariffs and employment resources," he added. "Comments remained mixed about business conditions and the overall economy."

The unexpected decrease by the headline index was partly due to a steep drop by the business activity index, which tumbled to 53.1 in July from 58.2 in June.

The new orders index also slumped to 54.1 in July from 55.8 in June, indicating a continued slowdown in the pace of growth in new orders.

On the other hand, the report said the employment index rose to 56.2 in July from 55.0 in June, pointing to a rebound in the pace of job growth in the service sector.

The ISM said the prices index dropped to 58.9 in July from 56.5 in June, indicating that prices increased for the 26th consecutive month.

Last Thursday, the ISM released a separate report showing growth in U.S. manufacturing activity also unexpectedly saw a continued slowdown in the month of July.

The ISM said its purchasing managers index dipped to 51.2 in July after edging down to 51.7 in June. Economists had expected the index to inch up to 52.0.

With the continued decrease, the purchasing managers index dropped to its lowest level since hitting 49.6 in August of 2016.

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