NEW YORK Growth in the U.S. services sector accelerated in May, rising at the fastest pace in nine months as new orders and business activity jumped, an industry report showed on Wednesday.
The Institute for Supply Management said its services sector index rose to 56.3 in May from 55.2 in April, topping expectations for a read of 55.5.
The report marks the 53rd straight month the index was above 50, the level that separates expansion from contraction, and was the latest sign economic activity is rebounding from the impact of the harsh winter.
The May figure was the highest since August's reading of 57.9, which had been a seven-year high.
The gauge of business activity surged to 62.1 from 60.9 in April. It was the highest read for the index since February 2011 and easily topped the consensus analyst forecast of 60.
The new orders index rose to 60.5, the highest level since January 2011, from 58.2 in April.
The employment index rose to 52.4 from 51.3 in April, while the prices paid index rose to 61.4, its highest since October 2012, from 60.8.
(Reporting by Ryan Vlastelica; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli)