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December ISM services gauge tops forecast

December ISM services gauge tops forecast (by Steve Goldstein)

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) -- The Institute for Supply Management's services index rose to 57.1% in December, up 2.1 points from November and better than MarketWatch-compiled economist expectations of 55.6%. Any reading above 50% indicates growth. However, the employment sub-index decreased 2.2 percentage points to 50.5 percent, indicating growth in employment for the fourth consecutive month, but at a slower rate.