U.S. Service-Sector Activity Slowed Sharply in July -- Update

By Jeffrey Sparshott Features Dow Jones Newswires

U.S. service-sector activity expanded at the slowest pace in nearly a year last month.

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The Institute for Supply Management said Thursday its index of nonmanufacturing activity -- covering industries such as construction, mining, hair-cutting and accounting -- fell to 53.9 in July from 57.4 in June. A reading above 50 indicates expanding activity, as measured by sales, production, hiring and other factors.

Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had expected a reading of 57.0 for July.

"The ISM report is clearly a big disappointment and suggests that the economy may have lost some momentum going into the third quarter," Andrew Hunter, U.S. economist at Capital Economics, said in a research note.

While most industries reported growth, the overall level was the lowest since August 2016. The deceleration, 3.5 points, was the sharpest since the November 2008.

The monthly reports can be volatile.

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Anthony Nieves, who leads the ISM survey, said the slowdown from an elevated level of activity isn't necessarily a warning sign.

"There's not any concern at this point in time," Mr. Nieves said. "Let's see how it trends out for the next two or three months."

Write to Jeffrey Sparshott at jeffrey.sparshott@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

August 03, 2017 10:57 ET (14:57 GMT)