WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. services companies grew again in December during the holiday season, maintaining the high pace reached in the previous month.
The Institute for Supply Management, a trade organization of purchasing managers, said Thursday that its services index came in at 57.2 in December, matching the November figure. It was the strongest reading since October 2015. Anything above 50 signals growth.
The services industry has now grown for 83 straight months. The strength in December reflected in part a strong gain in new orders which rose to a 16-month high of 61.6.
Andrew Hunter, an economist at Capital Economics, said the jump in orders was a hopeful sign that activity in services, where most Americans work, will remain strong in coming months.
Rob Martin, an economist at Barclays Research, said that the report was "consistent with ongoing solid activity in the non-manufacturing sector."
The survey said that 11 industries, led by entertainment and recreation and retail trade, reported increased business activity in December. Four industries, including educational services and public administration, reported decreased activity during the month.