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US service firms grow at fastest pace in a year
US service sector expands at fastest pace in a year in February as new orders rise
By The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) ' U.S. service companies expanded in February at the fastest pace in a year, helped by increased demand for new orders and growth in hiring.

The Institute for Supply Management says its index of non-manufacturing activity rose to 57.3, up from January's 56.8. Any reading above 50 indicates expansion.

The trade group of purchasing managers surveys roughly 90 percent of U.S. companies in all sectors outside of manufacturing. That includes retail, construction, financial services, health care, and hotels.

A measure of new orders reached its highest point in a year. While the group's employment index declined, it stayed at a level that suggests many service companies are adding workers.

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