NEW YORK (AP) _ The nation's service sector expanded in February, a trade group said Monday, but the 54.3 reading was slower than analysts had been expecting.
The Institute for Supply Management, which is based in Tempe, Ariz., said its index of business activity in the service sector was down from 59.0 in January. Wall Street analysts had expected a reading of at least 57.0 for the latest month.
A reading above 50 indicates expansion, while one below that indicates contraction.
February marked the 47th consecutive month of business activity growth, the trade group said.
The service industries covered by the ISM report represent about 80 percent of the nation's economic activity, and economists are looking for the sector to be a driver of growth in 2007 as the manufacturing sector struggles with weakness in the automotive and housing industries.