Non-manufacturing activity increased by 0.6 points to 52.6 in December from a reading of 52 in November, according to a report from the Institute for Supply Management. Economists had expected the index to advance to 53 for the month according to estimates from Thomson Reuters. A reading above 50 indicates expansion in the service sector, while a reading below that level points to contraction. "The NMI registered 52.6 percent in December, 0.6 percentage point higher than the 52 percent registered in November, and indicating continued growth at a slightly faster rate in the non-manufacturing sector," ISM chair Anthony Nieves said in the report. However, "economic growth continues to be slowed by the lag in employment," he said. A measure of new orders -- which measures expectations for future production -- increased by 0.2 points to 53.2, while a measure of employment climbed 0.5 points to 49.4, but remained at a level indicating contraction for a second month. The Non-Manufacturing Business Activity Index held steady at 56.2 for the 29th consecutive month of expansion. The non-manufacturing data follows a Tuesday report that showed that U.S. manufacturing rose to 53.9 in December for the 29th consecutive month of expansion in the sector. -- Written by Kaitlyn Kiernan in New York. >To contact the writer of this article, click here: Kaitlyn Kiernan To follow the writer on Twitter, go to @Kaitlyn_Kiernan.
NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- U.S. service sector activity rose in December after unexpectedly slipping to the lowest level in two years last month.