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Growth in service industries slows in April

May 03, 2012|By Jim Puzzanghera
  • A shopper in New York City last month. The Institute for Supply Management's index of nonmanufacturing businesses, which includes retail, fell to 53.5 in April, its lowest reading since November.
A shopper in New York City last month. The Institute for Supply Management's… (Justin Sullivan / Getty…)

WASHINGTON -- Growth in service industries, which make up 90% of the U.S. economy, slowed in April after surging the previous month, according to a leading gauge.

The Institute for Supply Management's index of nonmanufacturing businesses fell to 53.5 last month, down from 56 in March. The drop was steeper than economists had been projecting and brought the index to its lowest level since November's 52.6.

A reading above 50 indicates the sector -- which includes industries such as retail, entertainment, finance and construction -- is expanding. But the April data came after the group reported Tuesday that manufacturing jumped in April to a 10-month high.

The mixed economic messages are par for the course these days.

The jobs market also has been hard to figure out. ADP reported Tuesday that the number of workers added to U.S. payrolls fell in April to the lowest level in seven months. But on Thursday, a report showed initial claims for unemployment benefits tumbled more sharply than expected this week.

ISM noted that its index showed that service businesses grew in April for the 28th straight month. But that growth was much slower than in March, when the sector expanded at its fastest pace since 2006.

Fifteen of 18 industries tracked by the index showed growth in April. Three industries -- mining, utilities, and professional, scientific and technical services -- contracted, ISM said.

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