A gauge of U.S. service industries unexpectedly rose to a near-record level in September, an Institute for Supply Management survey showed Wednesday, offering fresh evidence of strength in the biggest part of the economy.
Non-manufacturing index rose to 61.6 (est. 58) from 58.5; readings above 50 indicate expansion.
Measure of business activity increased to 65.2, highest since January 2004, from 60.7.
Employment measure jumped to a record 62.4 from 56.7.
The reading topped all estimates in Bloomberg's survey of economists, underscoring continued strength at service companies amid solid consumer demand underpinned by tax cuts and plentiful jobs. While ISM's headline non-factory index dates to 2008, unofficial calculations based on earlier readings of components show the index is the highest since reaching 62 in August 1997.
The increase was broad-based, with gains across all four components: business activity, new orders, employment and supplier deliveries. The backlog index rose, showing that companies are still struggling to keep pace with orders.
The record employment reading is a positive signal before the official U.S. jobs report Friday. Economists predict nonfarm payrolls rose posted another solid gain in September.