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U.S. Services Gauge Strengthened Unexpectedly in December

  • ISM index advances on overall business activity, orders
  • Measure of employment at services drops amid virus surge
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Photographer: Luke MacGregor/Bloomberg
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Growth at U.S. service providers unexpectedly accelerated in December as gains in business activity and new orders helped offset a decline in a measure of employment.

The Institute for Supply Management’s services index rose to 57.2 during the month from 55.9 in November, according to data released Thursday. The December figure exceeded all economists’ forecasts in a Bloomberg survey which had a median projection of 54.5. Readings above 50 indicate expansion.