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US services sector growth ticks up in July: Markit

[NEW YORK] US services sector growth improved modestly in July from June, owing to a slight gain in employment and in new business, an industry report showed on Wednesday.

Financial firm Markit said its final reading of its Purchasing Managers Index for the service sector edged up to 55.7 in July, a slight improvement from the preliminary reading of 55.2 and up from June's 54.8 reading.

A reading over 50 signals expansion in economic activity.

Markit said its reading of new business rose to 57.4 in July from 56.3 in June. The employment index also improved from June.

The firm's composite index, a weighted average of the manufacturing and services indexes, was 55.7, a slight increase from its preliminary reading of 55.2.

"The Markit PMI data indicate that the US economy enjoyed a good start to the third quarter. Faster growth in services accompanied a similar upturn in manufacturing," said Chris Williamson, Markit chief economist, in a statement.

He did note, however, that declining company optimism meant that "firms are expecting growth to slip further in coming months."

REUTERS