US services firms expand at fastest pace since October 2015

WASHINGTON (AP) " U.S. services companies expanded in February at the fastest pace since October 2015.

The Institute for Supply Management, a trade group for purchasing managers, said Friday that its services index rose to 57.6 last month from 56.5 in January. Anything above 50 signals growth.

The services sector has now expanded for 86 straight months.

Production, new orders and hiring grew faster in February.

Sixteen services industries reported growth in February, led by utilities companies and mines. Only real estate and information services reported a contraction in business.

More than 70 percent of American jobs are in private services. Consumer spending on services contributes 47 percent of U.S. gross domestic product " the broadest measure of economic output. Consumers spend more than twice as much on services as they spend on goods.

On Wednesday, the institute reported that American factories expanded in in February at the fastest pace in more than two years.

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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