US SERVICE SECTOR GAINS MOMENTUM.

The US service sector expanded at a faster pace in January after two months of slowdown, reflecting growth for the 48th consecutive month, a survey shows.

The Non-Manufacturing Index (NMI), which measures activity in the US service sector, sped up to 54 percent, 1 percentage point higher than the reading for December, Xinhua reported citing the monthly survey of the Institute for Supply Management (ISM).

The NMI survey covers all sectors outside of manufacturing. A reading above 50 percent indicates expansion of the service sector.

The component for business activity index increased to 56.3 percent, 2 percentage points higher than the previous figure. The New Order Index, a signal of future business, edged up by 0.5 percentage point to 50.9 percent. The Employment Index added by 0.8 percentage point to 56.4 percent.

The survey showed the majority of respondents felt an improvement in business conditions. Some of the respondents indicated that weather conditions had impacted their business. There remains a bit of uncertainty about the overall economy for some respondents, but the majority felt positive about continued economic growth.

Analysts said the economy is not in full swing, but is not as bad as indicated by Monday’s ISM report on manufacturing. Eleven industries reported growth, including agriculture, forestry and retail trade. Seven industries reported contraction such as entertainment and recreation, and health care.

The NMI index is closely watched because the service sector provides about 90 percent of the US workforce, and is a key indicator for the overall health of the economic recovery. Separately, private payroll processor ADP said Wednesday US private-sector added 175,000 jobs in January, the smallest increase since August as bad weather weighed on the job market.

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