US services sector expansion slows in Nov amid Covid-19 spikes

The US services sector expanded in November for the sixth consecutive month, but the pace slowed down amid the unabated surge in the number of new coronavirus cases across the country, according to an updated report.

In the report issued on Thursday, the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) said that the Services Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), formerly known as the non-manufacturing index, registered 55.9 per cent, 0.7 percentage point lower than the October reading, reports Xinhua news agency.

Any reading above 50 per cent indicates the services sector is generally expanding.

“Service sector business activity slowed in November as rising virus case counts renewed pressure on service providers even as they struggle to get scarce supplies,” Tim Quinlan and Sarah House, senior economists at Wells Fargo Securities, wrote in an analysis.

The services PMI was released two days after the ISM reported a slower recovery in manufacturing, with Manufacturing PMI registering 57.5 per cent in November, down 1.8 percentage points from the October reading.

The report came as the US set a new world record for the number of coronavirus cases and hospitalisations reported in a single day, as the country’s overall infection tally has surpassed the 14 million mark.

It took only six days for the country to add another 1 million new cases.

In its latest update, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Thursday said that there were 196,227 new cases and 2,762 deaths reported in the last 24 hours.

With this, the overall caseload and death toll has now increased to 14,124,678 and 276,148, respectively.