US Service Sector Picks Up, Helped by Solid Holiday Sales

The U.S. service sector, which employ 90 percent of the workforce, expanded at a faster pace in December, helped by solid holiday sales and an economy that picked up strength in the final months of the year.

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The Institute for Supply Management said its index of non-manufacturing activity rose to 52.6 in December, up from 52 in November. Any reading above 50 indicates expansion.

The trade group of purchasing managers surveys a range of businesses, including restaurants, hotels, retailers, financial service firms and construction companies.

The service sector has grown for two straight years. But activity had slowed for a third straight month in November, dropping to the lowest reading since January 2010.