A new report by the Institute for Supply Management shows that the economy's service-sector index increased to 50.5 last month from 49.8 in December -- the strongest reading since May 2008. Any reading above 50 shows growth, but last month's index fell short of analysts' expectations of 51. The employment index rose to 44.6 in January from 43.6 in December, but it was still the 25th consecutive month of contraction.

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