Growth in US services sector slows in March


The massive US services sector cooled in March after a strong February, the Institute for Supply Management said Wednesday.

The ISM non-manufacturing index gave up 2.4 percentage points for the month to land at 55.2 percent, representing continued growth for the 87th straight month, or more than seven years.

The index surveys activity among all segments of the services industry. A reading of more than 50 percent indicates expansion.

Companies in 15 of 18 sectors reported growth while the rest -- information, education and professional, scientific and technical services -- registered contraction, ISM said in a statement.

The result fell nearly two points below an analyst consensus forecast.

New (KOSDAQ: 160550.KQ - news) export orders saw a 5.5 point monthly gain while business activity slowed by 4.7 points.

Respondents in the health care and insurance industries expressed concern because of US lawmakers' inability to arrive a replacement for general health care policies adopted in 2010 under the administration of former president Barack Obama.

"Uncertainty is making us hold on many projects," said a respondent from the health care and social assistance sector quoted by ISM.

There was also uncertainty about trade and immigration policies and their potential impacts on business.

Wednesday's result followed a reading from ISM's manufacturing index released Monday which showed continued expansion at 57.2 percent, the seventh straight month of expansion.