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US services sector expands at slower pace in September as sales, new orders weaken


WASHINGTON — Growth in the U.S. services sector slowed in September as sales fell and new orders plunged, evidence that stock market volatility may have hit consumer confidence and limited spending.

The Institute for Supply Management says its services index fell to 56.9 last month from 59 in August, which was the second-highest reading in a decade. Any reading above 50 signals expansion.

A measure of sales fell to 60.2, still a healthy reading, from 63.9. A gauge of new orders, however, dropped nearly 7 points to 56.7. That suggests sales growth may continue to cool in the coming months.

The ISM is a trade group of purchasing managers. Its services survey covers businesses that employ 90 percent of workers, including construction firms and financial services.

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