ISM Report: U.S. services expanded in December at fastest rate since 2006According to the Institute of Supply Management's recently released non-factory index, the services industry in the U.S. grew in December at its quickest pace since May of 2006, driving consumer and investor confidence.

The ISM's non-factory index, which tracks about 90 percent of the economy, increased to 57.1 in December from 55 in November, beating the average forecast of economists polled by Bloomberg News. A reading above 50 indicates growth and December's levels are another positive economic report out of the U.S.

FedEx Corp. and Carnival Corp. were among the businesses that said they saw improving demand for their services in the economy. The increased demand for logistics and travel companies illustrates that the economic recovery could be extending to retail and recreation - two sectors hurt badly during the recession.

Ken Mayland, president of ClearView Economics LLC, told Bloomberg that the news contributes to a growing sentiment that the U.S. economy has turned the corner in escaping the lingering effects of the financial meltdown: "We're coming into 2011 with some good momentum. We're going to be entering a better business climate."
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