Service sector shrinks unexpectedly in Nov.

FILE - In this Nov. 26, 2009 file photo, Janet Lau, center, looks at clothing during Old Navy's Thanksgiving day sale in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Russel A. Daniels, File)

December 3, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
A private measure of U.S. service sector activity unexpectedly shrank in November after two months of tepid growth, as constrained consumer spending and rising unemployment hinder a broad recovery.The Institute for Supply Management's service index dropped to 48.7 from 50.6 in October. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had expected a level of 51.1.

Any reading below 50 signals contraction. The service sector grew in September for the first time in 13 months.

The ISM measure tracks more than 80 percent of the country's economic activity, including such diverse industries as health care, retail, financial services and transportation.