US Services Firms Expand at Fastest Pace Since Mid-2014

(CN) – The service sector expanded in February at the fastest pace since October 2015, a sign of strong growth as the nation heads into spring.

The Institute for Supply Management, a trade group for purchasing managers, said Friday that its services index rose to 57.6 percent last month from 56.5 percent in January.

Any reading over 50 percent signals that more businesses are expanding instead of contracting.

The services sector has now expanded for 86 straight months. Sixteen of the 18 service sectors tracked by the ISM expanded in February, the highest number since mid-2014, according to the survey. Only real estate and information services reported a contraction in business.

The ISM survey is compiled from a questionnaire of the executives who buy supplies for their companies and it tends to rise and fall in step with the broader economy. About 8 in 10 American workers are employed by service firms.

On Wednesday, the institute reported that American factories expanded in  February at the fastest space in more than two years, with production, new orders and hiring all showing growth.

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