US service sector recovery ups pace in second month of 2013

Ben Southwood
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ACTIVITY in the biggest sector in the world’s top economy gathered speed in February, according to a widely regarded survey out yesterday.

The Institute for Supply Management’s (ISM) non-manufacturing index grew from 55.2 in January to 56 last month, the 38th straight month above 50 and hence suggesting growth.

And this overall improvement came from healthy figures in the ISM’s sub-indices. The business activity index grew from 56.4 to 56.9, in its 43rd above-50 month, while the new orders index shot up 3.8 to 58.2, ISM said.

“This was no question a positive number,” said BNY Mellon’s Michael Woodfolk. “It reinforces the view that the economy continues to improve.”

But analysts polled separately yesterday forecast that job numbers would grow just 160,000 in February, only barely enough to keep unemployment flat.