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US services companies expand at healthy pace in August, driven by robust sales and new orders

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WASHINGTON — U.S. services companies expanded at a healthy pace in August, lifted by robust consumer spending resulting from steady job gains.

The Institute for Supply Management says that its services index slipped to 59 from 60.3 in the previous month. July's reading was the highest in a decade, and any reading over 50 indicates expansion.

The index remains at a high level despite the decline and suggests that Americans have been spending freely at retail stores, hotels, restaurants and other firms that make up the index. The ISM is a trade group of purchasing managers. Its services survey covers businesses that employ 90 percent of workers.

A measure of sales and production fell one point but remained at a solid level of 63.9. A gauge of new orders also fell slightly.

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