The services sector improved in January for the 48th straight month, according to the Institute for Supply Management's Report on Business released today.
The Institute's Non-Manufacturing Index registered an overall 54% rating, up from December's 53%, and ever-so-slightly ahead of analyst expectations of 53.9%. An above-50 rating denotes growth, while less than 50 implies contraction.
The Index has been in growth territory since 2010, but readings during the past 12 months remain somewhat erratic.
Diving deeper into index components, business activity added on 2.0 points to reach 56.3%, new orders inched ahead 0.5 points to 50.9%, and employment increased 0.8 points to 56.4%. Although backlog of orders rose three points, this component remains in contraction at 49%. New export orders also shrank, down 2.5 points to 49.0%.
Eleven services industries reported growth in January, led by company management and support services. Seven reported contractions, with mining recording the biggest dip of any industry.