U.S. services sector expansion slows in November amid COVID-19 spikes

WASHINGTON, Dec. 3 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. services sector expanded in November for the sixth consecutive month, but the pace slowed down amid surging COVID-19 cases, the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) reported Thursday.

The Services Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI), formerly known as the non-manufacturing index, registered 55.9 percent, 0.7 percentage point lower than the October reading, according to the latest Services ISM Report on Business.

Any reading above 50 percent indicates the services sector is generally expanding.

"Service sector business activity slowed in November as rising virus case counts renewed pressure on service providers even as they struggle to get scarce supplies," Tim Quinlan and Sarah House, senior economists at Wells Fargo Securities, wrote in an analysis.

A business executive in Management of Companies & Support Services noted that business activity is "inconsistent" due to surging COVID-19 cases.

"Businesses that reopened are closing for a second time, leading to interruptions in the supply chain," the executive said in the ISM report.

The services PMI was released two days after the ISM reported a slower recovery in manufacturing, with Manufacturing PMI registering 57.5 percent in November, down 1.8 percentage points from the October reading.

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