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Reports: US Services Sector Growth Slows

Cashier Jillian Capko, right, checks merchandise at a Sam's Club store, Rogers, Ark., June 2011 file photo.
Reports published Wednesday paint a mixed picture of the U.S. economy.

One Institute for Supply Management measure shows the June services sector growing at the slowest pace in three years, a separate report from the government said the U.S. trade deficit got worse in May, as stronger U.S. demand boosted imports, particularly of autos, food, oil and beverages, by more than $4 billion.

Weak growth overseas made a slight cut in U.S. exports. The $45 billion monthly trade deficit shows the gap between what U.S. companies sell overseas and what Americans buy from foreign sources.

Two reports showed the job market improving. The number of Americans signing up for unemployment compensation last week dropped by 5,000 to a nationwide total of 343,000. An improving job market was also shown by data from ADP, a company that processes millions of paychecks across the country. ADP says the number of jobs created in the U.S. economy rose by tens of thousands in June.

Government experts publish the closely-watched unemployment report for June on Friday. Economists surveyed by news agencies predict the data will show the economy had a net gain of 165,000 jobs last month.

Many experts predict the U.S. unemployment rate will decline slightly, and fall one-tenth of a percent to 7.5 percent.