NEW YORK - A private trade group says the economy's service sector grew in January for the first time since September while job losses are moderating.
The Institute for Supply Management said Wednesday its service sector index rose to 50.5 last month from a revised 49.8 in December.
Any reading above 50 signals growth. Economists polled by Thomson Reuters had expected a reading of 51. The group's employment index showed job losses moderating. It improved to 44.6 in January from 43.6 in December.
The service-sector gauge is closely watched because service jobs comprise more than 80 percent of non-farm U.S. employment. The service sector is highly dependent on consumer spending, which powers about 70 percent of the economy.