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Growth slows in service industry

WASHINGTON — US services companies grew at a slightly weaker pace in October than in September because sales and new orders slowed. But a measure of employment rose, indicating services firms hired more.

The Institute for Supply Management said Monday that its index of nonmanufacturing activity fell to 54.2. That was down from a six-month high of 55.1 in September. A reading above 50 indicates ­expansion.

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The report measures growth in a broad range of businesses from retail and construction companies to health care and financial services firms. The industries covered employ about 90 percent of the workforce.

A gauge of hiring rose to a seven-month high of 54.9.

Economists said the report still shows there is some momentum in the service sector. October’s reading is above the July-September average.

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