The Institute for Supply Management’s non-manufacturing business activity composite index rose to 42.9 in January from 40.1 in December on a seasonally adjusted basis, the group said yesterday.

Economists polled by Thomson Reuters had expected a 39.0 level.

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

The prices paid index rose to 42.5 from 36.1. The employment index decreased to 34.4 from 34.5.

The business activity index grew to 44.2 from 38.9, the new orders index rose to 41.6 from 38.9, backlog of orders fell to 37.5 from 42.5, new export orders dipped to 39.0 from 39.5, inventories decreased to 41.5 from 49.0, inventory sentiment fell to 62.5 from 65.5, the supplier deliveries index increased to 51.5 from 48.0, and imports grew to 40.5 from 32.5.

The non-manufacturing index indicates “contraction in the non-manufacturing sector for the fourth consecutive month, but at a slightly slower rate,” said Anthony Nieves, chairman of the ISM’s non-manufacturing business survey committee. “According to the NMI, two non-manufacturing industries reported growth in January. Respondents are concerned about the global economy and the continued decline in business and spending.”

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