The U.S. services sector expanded at a slower pace as the non-manufacturing business activity composite index was 52.8 in April compared to 57.3 in March on a seasonally adjusted basis, the Institute for Supply Management reported Wednesday.

Economists polled by Thomson Reuters had expected a 57.4 level.

An index reading below 50 signals a slowing economy, while a level above 50 suggests expansion.

The prices paid index, closely watched for signs of inflation, dipped to 70.1 from 72.1. The employment index decreased to 51.9 from 53.7.

The business activity-production index fell to 53.7 from 59.7, the new orders index dropped to 52.7 from 64.1, the backlog of orders dipped to 55.5 from 56.0, new export orders slipped to 53.5 from 59.0, inventories stayed at 55.5, inventory sentiment slid to 57.5 from 67.0, the supplier deliveries index grew to 53.0 from 51.5, and imports jumped to 57.0 from 50.0.

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