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U.S. Services Gauge Hits One-Year High Before Virus

  • Strongest bookings since 2018 propel ISM index to 57.3
  • Employment gauge also picks up, while prices moderate
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America’s service industries in February enjoyed the fastest growth in a year as orders surged, showing momentum in the biggest part of the economy just as coronavirus concerns started to become more widespread.

The Institute for Supply Management’s non-manufacturing index unexpectedly rose 1.8 points to 57.3, according to data Wednesday. The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey called for a decline to 54.8. The third straight increase capped the longest stretch of gains since 2014. Figures above 50 show expansion.