ISM non-manufacturing index hits 57.2 vs estimate of 56.6

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Economic activity in the services sector grew in December for the 83rd consecutive month, according to data from the Institute for Supply Management on Thursday.

The institute's non-manufacturing index hit 57.2 in December. The index hit the same number in the previous month.

Economists expected the ISM non-manufacturing index to tick lower to 56.6 in December, according to an estimate from Thomson Reuters.

A reading above 50 indicates expansion in the service sector and a reading below 50 indicates contraction.

"The non-manufacturing sector closed out the year strong, maintaining its rate of month-over-month growth. Respondents' comments are mostly positive about business conditions and the overall economy," Anthony Nieves, chair of the Institute for Supply Management, said in the report.

Business activity decreased to 61.4 percent, 0.3 percentage points lower than the November reading, reflecting growth for the 89th consecutive month. The employment index decreased 4.4 percentage points in December to 53.8 percent from the November reading.