Service Sector Picks Up Slightly in May

Economic IndicatorsReuters

Activity in the vast U.S. services sector picked up slightly in May, though growth was still lackluster and a measure of employment fell to its lowest level in close to a year, an industry report showed on Wednesday.

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The Institute for Supply Management said its services index edged up to 53.7 last month from 53.1 in April, coming in above economists' expectations for 53.5.

A reading above 50 indicates expansion in the sector. The May reading was still off this year's peak so far of 56.0, which was hit in February.

The forward-looking new orders component rose to 56.0 from 54.5, though the employment measure slipped to the lowest level since last July at 50.1 from 52.0.

Both overseas and domestic demand appeared to cool with the exports index falling to 50.0 from 53.5, while imports tumbled to 49.5 from 58.5.