Activity in the U.S. service sector unexpectedly grew at a faster rate in the month of September, according to a report released by the Institute for Supply Management on Monday.
The ISM said its services PMI rose inched up 57.8 in September from 56.9 in August, with a reading above 50 indicating growth in the service sector. Economists had expected the index to edge down to 56.3.
“The composite index indicated growth for the fourth consecutive month after contraction in April and May,” said Anthony Nieves, Chair of the ISM Services Business Survey Committee.
He added, “Respondents’ comments remain mostly optimistic about business conditions and the economy, which correlates directly to those businesses that are operating.”
The unexpected uptick by the headline was partly due to an acceleration in the pace of growth in new orders, as the new orders index jumped to 61.5 in September from 56.8 in August.
The report also showed a turnaround in employment in the service sector, with the employment index climbing to 51.8 in September from 47.9 in August.
Meanwhile, the report showed a slowdown in the pace of price growth in the sector, as the prices index slumped to 59.0 in September from 64.2 in August.
The ISM released a separate report last Thursday showing the manufacturing activity in the U.S. expanded for the fourth straight month in September, although the pace of growth unexpectedly slowed modestly.
The ISM said its purchasing managers index edged down to 55.4 in September after rising to 56.0 in August. While a reading above 50 still indicates growth in the manufacturing sector, economists had expected the index to inch up to 56.3.
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