Growth in the U.S. service sector growth picked up in March, increasing on modestly along with the employment index ahead of the jobs data, an industry report showed on Thursday.
The Institute for Supply Management reported its services sector index rose to 53.1 in March, but came in under expectations. Economists polled by Reuters forecasted a 53.5 measurement, but reality missed the mark, even though it was still above the February reading of 51.6.
The February report was the worst read for the index since February of 2010 and many blamed the winter weather for terribly slow business activity.
The March measurement marked the 51st straight month the index was above 50. Readings above 50 point to expansion, while below 50 suggests contraction. Though that is a welcomed piece of data, low wage paying jobs are by majority those produced in the Obamaeconomy.
The pace of growth was far below the seven-year high of 57.9 the index reached in August. The employment index rose to 53.6 from 47.5 in February, which had been the lowest read for the subindex since March 2010.
The gauge of business activity fell for two consecutive months, dropping to 53.4 from 54.6 in February, while analysts were looking for 55.2.
The new orders index rose to 53.4 from 51.3, which was its third straight monthly increase. Still, markets are skeptical of tomorrow’s job report.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.45 point, or 0.00 percent to 16572. The S&P 500 fell 2.1 points, or 0.11 percent to 1889, while the Nasdaq Composite decreased 38.7 points, or 0.91 percent to 4238.
The broad S&P 500 clocked yet another record high on Wednesday, fueled by relatively positive data on private-sector employment from payroll processor ADP.