Service sector expands at slower pace in Oct. (by Greg Robb)
WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) -- Activity in the service sectors of the U.S. economy expanded at slightly slower pace in October, the Institute for Supply Management reported Thursday. The ISM non-manufacturing index inched lower to 52.9% from 53.0% in September. The decrease was unexpected. Economists were looking the index to increase to 53.5%. Below the headline, the employment index rose to 53.3% in October from 48.7% in September. This is the highest level since June. The ISM services employment index is closely watched for hints about to the likely strength of the key October nonfarm payroll report to be released on Friday. The new orders index fell to 52.4% in October from 56.5% in the prior month. Inventories fell to 45.5% from 51.5% in September.