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US services sector growth picked up in January: ISM

Economic activity in the vast US services sector picked up in January, with companies reporting better business conditions and adding jobs, the Institute for Supply Management said on Wednesday.

WASHINGTON: Economic activity in the vast US services sector picked up in January, with companies reporting better business conditions and adding jobs, the Institute for Supply Management said on Wednesday.

The ISM's purchasing managers index for the non-manufacturing sector advanced to 54.0 in January, a full point higher than December's 53.0 reading, and rebounding from two consecutive declines.

The January PMI number was slightly above the 53.8 level expected on average by analysts. A 50 reading marks the line between expansion and contraction in the services sector, which makes up the bulk of the US economy.

Still, the PMI remained below the 12-month average of 54.6.

The business activity component jumped two full points to 56.3 in January.

Job creation accelerated, pushing the employment component to 56.4, from December's 55.6 level.

New orders, a sign of future growth, edged up a tepid 0.5 point to 50.9.

Eleven of the 18 industries surveyed reported growth, led by business management and services and agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting.

Contraction was reported by seven industries, with mining the hardest hit.

"The majority of respondents' comments reflect an improvement in business conditions," said Anthony Nieves, chair of the ISM's services sector survey committee.

"There remains a bit of uncertainty about the overall economy for some of the survey respondents; however, the majority feel positive about continued economic growth."

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