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Published: Thursday, 11/5/2009

U.S. service sector notches second month of small growth


NEW YORK - The U.S. service sector grew for a second straight month in October, but at a slower pace than in September, as a broad economic recovery creeps along.

The Institute for Supply Management said yesterday that its service index dipped to 50.6 last month from 50.9. Any reading above 50 signals growth. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had expected a 51.5 for the index that tracks the country's hospitals, retailers, financial services companies, and truckers.

But new orders, an augur of future activity, rose to 55.6, from 54.2 in September. Business activity also rose.

Still, the decline in employment worsened. The employment tracker has contracted for 21 of the past 22 months.

In the survey, nine industries said their businesses grew last month, with real estate, construction, corporate management, and support services showing the biggest gains. Seven sectors contracted. The index tracks more than 80 percent of the country's economic activity.

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