Signaling continued weakness in the service sector, the Institute for Supply Management said Friday that its non-manufacturing index unexpectedly fell in March and indicated the sixth consecutive month of contraction in the sector.

The ISM said its non-manufacturing index fell to 40.8 in March from 41.6 in February, with a reading below 50 indicating a contraction in the service sector. The decrease came as a surprise to economists, who had expected the index to edge up to 42.0.

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