U.S. service companies grew at a slightly faster pace in November because sales and new orders rose, a good sign for the economy. The Institute for Supply Management said its index of nonmanufacturing activity rose to 54.7 from 54.2 in October. Any reading above 50 indicates expansion.
The report measures growth in many industries, including retail, construction, health care and financial services firms. The industries covered employ about 90 percent of the workforce. A measure of employment fell to the lowest level since July but still showed companies added workers last month. Superstorm Sandy and concerns about looming tax increases and spending cuts probably reduced hiring, economists said.