Growth slowed slightly in the US services sector in October, but remained at a solid pace with a pickup in hiring for the third month, the Institute for Supply Management's monthly index showed Monday.
A day ahead of the presidential election largely fought over the economic recovery, the ISM monthly purchasing managers index (PMI) for the services sector slipped to 54.2 from 55.1 in September, holding exactly at the same sluggish but positive pace of the past 12 months.
The ISM said respondents to its surveys expressed a "positive but guarded outlook on business conditions and the economy."
"Outlook is positive yet still guarded. Clients have some pent-up demand that they are acting on with short-term contracts," said a respondent in the professional, scientific and technical services sector.
In sub-sectors of the PMI, ISM said business activity and new orders grew more slowly than in the previous month, but that inventories were contracting and hiring picked up pace.
"The modest pullback ends a run of three straight monthly increases, but still leaves the service sector comfortably in expansion territory, and running at a firmer pace than during the mid-year soft patch," said Robert Kavcic of BMO Capital Markets.