U.S. Services Index Unexpectedly Indicates Faster Growth In August

Activity in the U.S. service sector unexpectedly grew at a faster pace in the month of August, according to a report released by the Institute for Supply Management on Wednesday.

The ISM said its services PMI rose to 54.5 in August from 52.7 in July, with a reading above 50 indicating growth in the sector. The increase surprised economists, who had expected the index to edge down to 52.5.

“There has been an increase in the rate of growth for the services sector, reflected by increases in all four subindexes that directly factor into the composite Services PMI and faster supplier deliveries,” said Anthony Nieves, Chair of the ISM Services Business Survey Committee.

He added, “Sentiment among Business Survey Committee respondents varies by industry; however, the majority of panelists are positive about business and economic conditions.”

The report said the new orders index climbed to 57.5 in August from 55.0 in July, while the employment index jumped to 54.7 in August from 50.7 in July. The business activity index also crept up to 57.3 from 57.1.

On the inflation front, the prices index rose to 58.9 in August from 56.8 in July, indicating an acceleration in the pace of price growth.

The ISM released a separate report on Friday showing an uptick by its reading on U.S. manufacturing activity in the month of August.

The ISM said its manufacturing PMI rose to 47.6 in August from 46.4 in July, although a reading below 50 still indicates a contraction. Economists had expected the index to inch up to 47.0.

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