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Washington (AFP) – Growth in the huge U.S. services sector picked up steam in October despite some negative fallout from the government shutdown, the Institute for Supply Management said Tuesday.

The ISM purchasing managers index for the non-manufacturing sector rose to 55.4 percent in October, a full point higher than the September reading of 54.4 percent.

The improved growth was unexpected, with the average analyst estimate pegged for the PMI to fall to 54.0 percent.

The massive services sector, which accounts for about 80 percent of private-sector jobs and some 70 percent of the world’s largest economy, has been growing for 46 months in a row.

A PMI reading above 50 indicates expansion, while one below 50 marks contraction.

“Respondents’ comments are mixed with the majority reflecting an uptick in business. A number of respondents indicate that they are negatively impacted by the government shutdown,” said Anthony Nieves, chair of the survey committee for the services sector.

The ISM’s October report on the manufacturing sector released Friday showed an unexpected PMI rise to 56.4 percent from 56.2 percent in September.

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