- Service sector activity in the U.S. grew at a slower rate than expected in June, dampening optimism over the economic outlook, industry data showed on Thursday.

In a report, the Institute of Supply Management said its non-manufacturing purchasing manager''s index fell to 56.0 last month from a reading of 56.3 in May. Analysts had expected the index to hold steady at 56.3 in June.

The New Orders Index registered 61.2, 0.7 points higher than the reading of 60.5 in May, while the Employment Index increased 2.0 points to 54.4 from the May reading of 52.4, indicating growth for the fourth consecutive month and at a faster rate.

The Prices Index decreased 0.2 points from the May reading of 61.4 to 61.2.

On the index, a reading above 50.0 indicates the non-manufacturing sector economy is generally expanding, below 50.0 indicates the sector is contracting.

According to the data, 14 non-manufacturing industries reported growth in June. Respondents'' comments vary by industry and company, however, the majority indicate that steady economic growth is continuing."

Following the release of the data, the U.S. dollar held on to gains against the euro, with EUR/USD shedding 0.4% to trade at 1.3604.

Meanwhile, U.S. stock markets were higher after the open. The Dow rose 0.4%, the S&P 500 inched up 0.3%, while the NASDAQ Composite tacked on 0.2%.

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