US services sector growth slows down in March, ISM says

Silver Diner regional manager Omar Martinez, chef Ricardo Alvarez and operating partner Mandeep Shrestha carry out the last of that day’s 400 free meals to be given away during the coronavirus pandemic April 02, 2020 in Gaithersburg, Maryland.

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Activity in the U.S. services sector slowed down in March as business grapple with the coronavirus outbreak, data released Friday by the Institute for Supply Management showed.

The ISM non-manufacturing index fell to 52.5 last month from 57.3 in February. Economists polled by Dow Jones expected the ISM services index to fall to 45. To be sure, the report may not capture the full extent of the virus’ impact on the economy, meaning future data on the sector could be much worse.

“Respondents are concerned about the coronavirus impact on the supply chain, operational capacity, human resources and finances, as well as the ramifications for the overall economy,” said Anthony Nieves, chair of the Institute for Supply Management, in a statement. 

More than 1 million coronavirus cases have been confirmed around the world, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. In the U.S. alone, more than 245,000 cases have been confirmed. 

Friday’s report came after a dismal U.S. jobs report, which showed nonfarm payrolls fell by 701,000 last month. 

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