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.