ECONOMY

US services firms grow at fastest pace since October 2015

U.S. services companies expanded last month at their fastest pace in more than a year.

The Institute for Supply Management, a trade organization of purchasing managers, says its services index reached 57.2 in November, up from 54.8 in October and the highest level since it hit 58.3 in October 2015. Anything above 50 signals growth.

The services industry has now grown for 82 straight months. Fourteen services industries reported growth last month; only two contracted. The ISM says services companies reported that production, hiring and new export orders all grew faster than they did in October.

The continued gain in the ISM's index is an encouraging sign because private services companies represent a significant chunk of the U.S. economy, accounting for more than 70 percent of nonfarm U.S. jobs.