Activity at US services companies slipped in January

The pace of growth for U.S. services companies slipped a tad in January, but employment measures improved in a positive for the economy.

The Institute for Supply Management, a trade organization of purchasing managers, says that its services index declined to 56.5 in January from 56.6 in December. Any reading above 50 signals growth.

The services sector has now expanded for 85 straight months. The pace of growth for new orders slowed, causing the overall index to drop. But the employment measure advanced last month.

There were 12 non-manufacturing industries that reported growth in January, including finance, construction, health care, retail and accommodation and food services. But five industries including real estate, transportation and warehousing and arts, entertainment and recreation said activity contracted.