ISM Services Index Highest Since May 2006

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Economic activity in the services sector rose more than expected in December, according to the latest report from the Institute for Supply management.

The non-manufacturing index rose to 57.1% from 55% in November. Economists were expecting the index to climb modestly to 55.7%. A reading above 50 indicates growth.

The business activity index rose 6.5 percentage points to 63.5%, reflecting growth for the 13th consecutive month. New orders rose 5.3 percentage points to 63%, its highest since August 2005. The employment index dropped 2 percentage points to 50.5%. The price index rose 6.8 percentage points to 70%.

Stocks were mixed Wednesday morning. The PowerShares QQQ ( QQQQ) was ticking higher by 0.15% following the report. The SPDR Dow Jones Industrial Average ETF ( DIA) and the SPDR S&P 500 ( SPY) were still weak.

-- Written by Shanthi Bharatwaj in New York

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