ISM: Non-manufacturing sector growth slowed in March, but still expanded  On Tuesday, the Institute of Supply Management released its March report on the non-manufacturing sector in the U.S. According to the report, the non-manufacturing sector in the U.S. expanded for the 16th straight month, but its growth rate was below February's levels. 

Overall, 16 industries grew during March. ISM non-manufacturing business survey chair Anthony Nieves said the non-manufacturing sector in the U.S. registered 57.3 percent in March, representing a decline of 2.4 percentage points from February's 59.7 percent reading. While the report highlights the growth experienced in the sector, it also stated the red-hot expansion the industry has witnessed could be slowing.

The non-manufacturing business activity index fell 7.2 percent points to 59.7 percent; though that figure indicates an expansion, it also illustrates the slowdown in growth from the month prior. "Respondents' comments reflect concern about the recent natural disasters in Japan and the associated supply chain ramifications," said Nieves. "Additionally, there is concern over rising costs, most notably for fuel and fuel products. Overall, most respondents remain confident about the direction of the economy."

Employment activity in the non-manufacturing sector - typically responsible for a majority of American jobs - hit 53.7 percent in March, declining 1.9 percentage points from February's 55.6 percent reading. On a more granular level, 11 industries reported increased employment, three had lowered employment and four industries had unchanged employment levels.
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