News Summary: US service firms grew in September

SERVICE FIRMS GROW: U.S. service companies grew in September at the fastest pace in 6 months, helped by a sharp increase in customer demand. Service firms employ roughly 90 percent of the work force.

THE NUMBERS: The Institute for Supply Management said its non-manufacturing index rose to 55.1 in September, up from 53.7 in August. A reading above 50 indicates expansion.

CONTEXT: The faster service sector growth coincided with the first month of growth at U.S. factories since May. Both sectors benefited from an increase in new orders. If stronger consumer demand continues, economic growth and hiring could pick up.