US services companies grew at a slightly faster pace

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. services companies grew at a slightly faster pace in January than the previous month, an indicator of continued steady expansion of the economy.

The Institute for Supply Management said Wednesday that its service-sector index edged up to 55.5 from 55 in December. Any reading above 50 signals an expansion. The index covers retail, health care, hotels and restaurants, and professional services, among other sectors.

Services companies added jobs at a slower pace last month than in December, while sales increased. Steady consumer spending, buttressed by a strong job market and decent pay gains, is driving a healthy service sector and broader economy.