The non-manufacturing sector grew in December at its fastest pace in more than 4 years, according to an industry report released on Wednesday.

The Institute for Supply Management said its index of national services activity rose to 57.1 in December from 55.0 in November, The median forecast of 51 economists surveyed by Reuters was for a reading of 55.6.

A reading above 50 indicates expansion in the sector.

The reading was the highest since 57.2 in May 2006.

The report's employment component fell to 50.5 from 52.7 in November while new orders, a leading indicator, jumped to 63.0 from 57.7.

(Reporting by Edward Krudy; Editing by James Dalgleish)