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Today's release of the ISM Services index for January (55.2) showed a modest decline from December (55.7), but it still managed to beat expectations by a slim margin (55.0). Looking at both the ISM Manufacturing and ISM Services index on a combined basis shows that business activity during the month of January weakened a bit, falling from 55.4 down to 54.6.

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The table below shows the change in the headline index and each of the ISM Services sub-components relative to December and January of last year. Although the headline index declined this month, six out of 10 sub-components actually increased during the month. The employment component was especially notable as that rose to its highest level since February 2006. Relative to last year at this time, the numbers were less robust, as the headline index and six out of 10 sub-components are down compared to last January. (Click here for charts of each sub-component.)

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Source: ISM Services Index Slightly Better Than Expected