NEW YORK -- Growth in the U.S. services sector accelerated in April, rising at the fastest pace in eight months as new orders jumped and overall activity quickened by the most since early 2008, an industry report showed Monday.
The Institute for Supply Management said its services sector index rose to 55.2 in April from 53.1 in March, topping expectations for a read of 54.1. The data provides further evidence that economic activity is regaining momentum after lagging through much of the winter, a lull largely blamed on harsh weather.
The April read marked the 52nd straight month the index was above 50, the level that separates expansion from contraction, and was the latest sign the impact of the harsh winter was ebbing.
%VIRTUAL-article-sponsoredlinks%Moreover, the April pace was the highest since August's reading of 57.9, which had been a seven-year high.
The gauge of business activity surged to 60.9 from 53.4 in March and was well above analyst forecasts of 54.4. The 7.5-point jump was that measure's largest monthly increase since February 2008 when it rose 10.3 points.
The new orders index rose to 58.2, up 4.8 points from 53.4 the month before. That marked the largest monthly increase since March 2010, when it jumped 7.5 points. Both the new orders and business activity indexes were their highest overall since August.
The employment index slipped to 51.3 from 53.6 in March, although that conflicts with a strong reading on private-sector services employment reported by the U.S. Labor Department on Friday. The government data showed service-sector hiring expanded last month by the most in 11 months, with 220,000 private-sector services jobs added.
7 Simple Habits to Save a Pretty Penny (or $100)
Service Sector Grows at Fastest Pace Since August
Have you ever heard of the 30-day rule? As a frugal guy, this is one of my favorite rules in spending. If you’re about to spend any more than $20 on something that is unnecessary, don’t. Instead, put the item down and wait 30 days to buy it. You’ll be amazed at how much money you save by not making unnecessary frivolous purchases.
I literally mean freeze your credit cards. It seems a bit extreme, but think of it this way. The average credit card comes with a 13 percent or higher interest rate. By simply not using credit cards as often, you’ll save a ton. So, get a plastic sandwich bag and put your credit cards in it. Fill it with water, zip it up and throw it in the freezer. Without easy access to those tempting pieces of plastic, you probably won’t use them as much. However, they’ll still be around -- in an emergency, you can retrieve them from the ice.
Have you ever looked around your house, seen a few items and thought, “I could have made that!” You probably could have. The only thing is, you didn’t. Instead you paid for it. From now on, before you buy something you think you can make on your own, give it a shot. I saved a little over a hundred bucks about two weeks ago. I needed a new bird cage for my fiancé’s doves. Instead of buying a cage for $200, I made one that was far bigger for less than $80.
Did you know that a clean air filter in your car can lead to 7 percent more fuel efficiency? That means at current gas prices, with a clean air filter, you’ll save about $100 a year, if you drive the average 10,000 miles.
How often on the way home from the office do you want to stop for a convenient quick meal? You’ve had a long day, and it feels justified. But it costs much more than a home-cooked meal. The answer is your slow cooker. Use it to prepare your meal in the morning on days you know will be rough. This way, you can skip the fast food and rush home to an already ready home-cooked meal.
Do you pay a maintenance fee for your bank account? Why? Tons of banks offer checking and savings accounts without them. Look to your local credit union or even switch to an online bank. When comparing your options, also look at the interest you can earn. Currently, I get about 3 percent on checking and about 3.4 percent on savings, but who knows what kind of great deals you can find?
I’ve had tons of options to sign up for customer rewards programs and I was just too busy. So, I didn’t sign up. Then one day, I realized that I was paying for rewards I wasn’t getting. The cost of the rewards obviously trickles down to the end consumer. So, if the end consumer doesn’t take part, he or she loses money in the process. Since I’ve signed up for every reward program around me, I’ve saved at least 20 or 30 bucks a month in rewards.