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U.S. service firms show growth in March

April 5, 2011 at 1:50 PM

TEMPE, Ariz., April 5 (UPI) -- Business activity in U.S. service industries grew in March for the 16th consecutive month, the Institute for Supply Management said Tuesday.

The headline index for service businesses across the country slipped from 59.7 to 57.3, meaning business activity grew in March, but at a slower pace than in February. Numbers above 50 in the index indicates growth.

The new orders index for non-manufacturing businesses held relatively steady dropping from 64.4 to 64.1. The productivity index, however, dropped 7.2 percent, falling from 66.9 to 59.7. The employment index also slowed, with the index declining 1.9 percent from 55.6 to 53.7.

The prices index rose from 72.1 to 73.3, while the backlog of orders index rose from 50.5 to 52.

The new export orders index fell 1.2 percent from 73.7 to 72.1. New exports rose 2.5 percent, climbing from 56.5 to 59. The imports index dropped 3.5 percent from 53.5 to 50.

In the month, 16 of 18 service industries tracked in the report showed growth in the month, led by real estate, management services and retail trade, the report said.

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